Saturday, February 20, 2010

Daal / Lentil recipes..

Daal is a very common side dish for any Indian vegetarian meal because it provides necessary proteins for the balanced diet. It is a preparation of Pulses/Dried Beans which has been taken off their skins and then split(you get whole Dal also). In my family, Daal is always as part of main meals and I have to prepare different types of Daal .Here's some of the recipes i have shared and more to come..

Udipi /Temple Sambar ::::

This dish has it name from the small town situated in between of mountains of Western Ghats of South-India where in famous Krishna temple this lentil soup with lots of locally grown vegetables is served for devotees with rice and other dishes. this specialty of this sambar or soup is that it is made with no onion and garlic. I used to eat this sambar with dosa or idli on weekend mornings at St Louis Hindu temple for 6 years and before leaving for St Louis I requested the cook for the recipe. He was surprised why I was asking that simple recipe but he somehow managed to tell me the recipe in English. I regularly prepare this sambar with dosa or idli and mom loved it during her visit to our place too.

1 cup of tuvar daal / pigeon peas,
1/2 tsp turmeric powder,
1/2 tsp oil,
one cup of vegetables of your choice,
1/2 cup tamarind pulp,
1 tbsp sambar powder,
1/2 tsp red chilli powder,
1/2 tsp coriander powder,
few chopped coriander leaves for garnishing.

For tempering...
1-2 nos. dry whole red chillies,
few fresh curry leaves,
a pinch of hing / asafoetida,
a pinch of cumin and mustard seeds,
1/4 tsp chana daal,
1 tbsp of fresh scrapped coconut/ dry coconut.

salt as per taste. 

For Sambar powder... 
1 tsp urad daal / split black gram,
½ tsp chana daal / split Bengal gram,

1/3 tsp  cumin seeds,
1 tsp coriander seeds,
½ tsp methi / fenugreek seeds
4-6 nos whole red chilli, preferably 
1 tbsp grated coconut. 

1. Wash daal 2-3 times and wash and chop all the vegetables. 
2. Then in a pressure cooker, add turmeric powder, 1 tsp oil and two cups of water and chopped vegetables. Let it cook up to 3 whistles. Let it rest until  pressure goes off. If you are cooking in a normal vessel then cook until daal becomes mushy.
3. Smash the cooked vegetables and daal using a spatula or whisk coarsely. Add salt and tamarind pulp and mix nicely.
4. Heat oil in a deep-bottomed pan, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dry whole chillies, chana daal,  curry leaves and hing and saute for 2 minutes . Now add scrapped coconut to the oil and fry little and add red chilli powder, coriander powder and sambar powder and mix everything.
5. Pour smashed daal to the pan adding one cup of water and mix slowly with the tempering. Let it simmer for 4-5 minutes. Add coriander leaves for garnishing. Serve hot with dosa , idli or uttapam.
This is the recipe what I learned from the Hindu Temple cook. But I have gone through other website recipes where vegetables are cut into small pieces and fry with tempering at step 4 instead of cooking with daal. I generally cook the vegetables with daal if I am having this sambar with dosa or idli. For vegetables, I use carrots, radish, bottle-gourd, drumsticks, tomato and pumpkin. 

Methi Daal ::: 
Methi mean fenugreek leaves are widely used for our Indian cuisine almost every part of India. This fresh leafy vegetables have medicinal values and good for health as cooling effect for summer time. I hardly prepared anything with methi leaves but today after seeing fresh methi in Indian grocery could not resist myself to pick couple of bunches and then wondering what to do but thanks to Priyanka and Suchismitadidi for the recipe and it turned too good with chapathi and salad.

Ingredients :::
one cup arhar / tuvar daal / pigeon peas lentils,
1 1/2 cup of finely chopped methi / fenugreek leaves,
1/4 tsp turmeric powder,
a small size onion,finely chopped
2-3 nos. green chillies, slit lengthwise
1 no.bay leaf,
a pinch of mustard seeds,
a pinch of roasted cumin seeds,optional
salt to taste,
2 tbsp of oil.

1. Boil daal with turmeric powder and 1 tbsp oil. Keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and bay leaf and when mustard seeds start splutter then add chopped onion and green chillies. Saute a little.
3. Add finely chopped methi leaves and sprinkle little salt and cook for 3-5 mins or until raw smell of methi leaves and then add cooked daal and mix thoroughly and let it simmer for some time. Before serving, sprinkle roasted cumin seeds. Serve hot with roti or chapathi and salad.
You can use Moong daal or chana daal too. I dint have tomatoes and coriander leaves but you can use it too.

Daal Achari :::
This is very simple but tangy and spicy daal what I had this daal at my cousin sister's house long back but tried to prepare. The achaar or pickle taste of the mixed lentil soup or daal goes very well with roti or plain rice n papad.
Ingredients :::
1 cup of moong daal or split green gram,
half cup of masoor daal or red lentils,
1/4 tsp turmeric powder,
1/4 tsp cumin seeds n mustard seeds,
a few fresh curry leaves,
1 no. whole dry red chilli,
a small tomato, finely chopped,
a pinch of coriander powder,
1 tbsp oil from your favorite pickle bottle,
salt to taste,
2 tbsp oil.

1.Wash both the daals / lentils together and soak for 15mins. Add turmeric powder, salt and few drops of oil to the pressure cooker along with daals and enough water for cooking. Cook until daals are done or up to one whistle. Let it cool.
2. Heat oil in a deep-bottomed pan or kadai, add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When seeds start spluttering, add red chilli and curry leaves. Saute a little.
3. Add chopped tomatoes and sprinkle coriander powder and a little salt and fry for 2-3 mins until oil separates and then add cooked daal with 1/3 cup of warm water. Simmer for 7-8 mins. Once done, add oil from your favorite pickle and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
You can amchoor or dry mango powder to the daal too for more tangy taste and if you are cooking on a pan then put the daal when half done to the blender or mixer and give one or two pulse for smoothness. That will save your time.

Tomato Sambar ::::
Sambar or sambhar or sambaaru is basically vegetable stew with pigeon peas and tamarind and this is originated from Tamil Nadu only but very popular and main dish in Southern parts of India and nowadays all over India and abroad, people love to have with idli, dosa or with rice also. This is one of complete dish with rice and great combination with idli and dosa. Every house has it own way of preparing according to their taste and environment. But here I am sharing what I had in my in-laws house and now I prepare pretty often at my home.

1 1/2 cup toor or arhar daal / pigeon pea lentils,
1/2 tsp turmeric powder,
one small onion, finely chopped,
one small tomato finely chopped,
2-3 green chillies, slitted lengthwise,
1/2 tsp ginger-garlic paste,
one small size tamarind ball,
1 tsp red chilli powder,
1/2 tsp turmeric powder,
1 tsp sambar masala powder,
salt to taste,
1 tsp oil and 
fresh coriander leaves for garnishing

For seasoning :::
1/4 tsp mustard seeds,
1/5 tsp chana daal / split chick peas,
1/5 tsp urad daal / black gram lentils,
2 whole dry red chillies,
a few fresh curry leaves,
1/5 tsp of asafoetida or hing.

1. Soak tamarind in warm water for 30-45mins and then smash tamarind ball with hand or a spatula unless thick pulp comes out of it. Then sieve the tamarind water through a strainer. If needed add some more warm water and then keep aside.
2. Wash daal properly and then add half of turmeric and little bit of oil to the daal and cook until done or if you are using pressure cooker then wait for three whistles and then let it cool down.
3. Heat rest of oil in a pan or kadai, add mustard seeds and when it starts spluttering then add rest of the ingredients mentioned under seasoning. Saute a little everything and then add chopped onions and ginger-garlic paste. Fry for a minute.
4. Add chopped tomatoes and then sprinkle turmeric powder, red chilli powder, sambar powder and salt. Saute for some time and then add tamarind water and cover the pan with a tight lid to cook until oil separates. 
5. Once done, open the pressure cooker and smash cooked daal with a blender or spatula to make smoother adding half cup of water and then add to the pan and adjust salt here. If you want to make little more thinner then add another cup of warm water and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add chopped fresh coriander leaves for garnishing.
You can add vegetables to this sambar like carrots, radish, pearl onions, bottle guard and ladies finger. You can add diced vegetables except ladies finger while cooking daal and then add to the pan before pouring daal and fry with spices a little. I generally use home made sambar masala which you can find in chutney and condiments section but you can good store brought sambar masala too. If you want hotel style sambar then add 1/3 cup of grated coconut while frying onion and ginger-garlic paste.

Chholar or Chana Daal :::

This daal is my son's most favorite daal.Last year when I was at my mom's place after my dad's sudden death, mom used to prepare more often chholar daal and my son is so much fond of this daal I have to prepare weekly once or twice upon his request and he named it dida's (grandma's ) daal. Here's I have shared with you mom's recipe.

Ingredients :::
one cup of chholar or chana daal,
1/4 tsp turmeric powder,
1/2 tsp dry roasted cumin powder,
1/4 tsp cumin seeds,
5-6 nos. green chillies, slit lengthwise,
1 bay leaf,
a pinch of sugar,
salt to taste,
half cup of scrapped coconut,
1 or 2 small green cardamon, smashed
1/2 tsp of grated ginger or paste,
2 tsp oil,
half cup of chopped fresh coriander leaves.

Method :::

1. Wash and soak daal for at least 2 hours and then cook in a pan or pressure cook with salt,sugar and turmeric powder and little oil up to three whistles or half an hour. Make it cool if doing in pressure cooker and then smash slightly and keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a wok or pan, add bay leaf, cumin seeds and when seeds starts to crackle, add grated ginger and green chillies and saute for a min.
3. Add scrapped coconut and then fry for a 2 mins nicely and then add cooked daal and half cup of water and mix thoroughly and let it boil. You can add another half cup of water to adjust the thickness of daal.
4. Sprinkle roasted cumin powder and chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with chapati or roti or with plain steamed rice.
You  can mix cumin power with light warm water and then add to the pan while frying coconut if you don't have roasted cumin powder and you can add chopped onion and tomato too.

Dhansaak..a vegetarian delight :::

I was really thinking to prepare something new yet simple as some of our vegetarian friends were coming for dinner. Believe me or not ,I feel cooking veggie dishes are tough than non-veg. I was surfing the net and then I found a nice blog, SAFFRONTRAIL and there I saw this dish and decided to give a try.
Parsi people use lots of meats and eggs in their daily meal. Dhansaak ,one of their hot favorites,is combination of lentils,vegetables and meat in spicy curry but here I replaced meat with vegetables and came awesome ,goes very well with brown rice and Indian breads ,roti,paratha too.
1/4 cup of moong daal or split green gram,
1/4 cup of masoor daal or red lentils,
1/4 cup of toor daal or yellow pigeon peas,
5-6 big pieces of red/orange pumpkin(peeled and cleaned),
1 big onion,coarsely chopped,
1 medium tomato,chopped finely,
1 bunch of fenugreek / methi leaves,cleaned and chopped,
salt as per taste,
a pinch of sugar,
4-5 tsp of oil,

For spices::
4 cloves garlic
1" piece fresh ginger
5-7 nos. red chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1" cinnamon stick
2 green cardamoms
4 pepper corns

1.Wash and clean all the daals together and soak for 15 mins.
2.Pressure cook daals with pumpkins up to 2-4 whistles and keep aside and let it cool.
3.Now take a skillet / kadai, dry roast all the spices except ginger-garlic until nice aroma comes out.
out.Try to do the process on low flame.
4.Make it cool and make a fine paste with ginger and garlic using water.Keep aside.
5.Now heat oil in the same skillet,sprinkle a pinch of sugar and add sliced onions and fry for 2-3 mins or until onion changes its color.
6.Add the masala paste and mix thoroughly and let it fry for 3 mins.
7.Now add chopped tomatoes and fenugreek leaves.Stir nicely to mix everything and let it cook for 5-6 mins until tomatoes are soft and cooked.
8.In between,mash daal with hand or you can use blender. Add little salt as per your taste.
9.Pour mashed daal in skillet and slowly mix all together and add 1/4 cup of water if daal is thick and then let it cook on very low flame for 5 mins.Serve hot.

You can adjust the spices according to your taste and if tomatoes are not so sour,you can use lemon juice or tamarind pulp.I used more fenugreek leaves and less tomatoes,that's why the color is greenish.To get the original color ,Orange red, use one or two more tomatoes. Dhansaak is good when eating fresh with hot rice but taste comes out better when you are having after two days.I like to have with chapathi or phulka after two days.

Aam Daal :::

In hot summer days raw mango dal or lentil soup with plain steamed rice is usually prepared in India. In my place, only early summer we can see small green tangy mangoes and my mom prepares nice dal with that. I used to sit near her eagerly to get one or two pieces and then eating with pinch of salt ,Oh heavenly.
But here in USA, we get green mangoes in Indian stores all year along. This is mom's recipe here I m sharing with everybody.

Ingredients :::
1 cup moong dal / split green gram , 6-7 small green mangoes or 1 large green raw mangoes,(peeled and diced) 2 dry whole red chillies, 4-5 green chili cut lengthwise, 1/4 tsp mustard seeds, 1/4 tsp ginger paste, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, coriander leaves for garnishing, a pinch of roasted cumin powder, salt as per taste,

1. Heat a deep bottomed pan or sauce pan,dry roast moong dal until nice aroma comes out.
2. Now wash nicely with cold water and then keep the dal for cooking with salt. When starts boiling, take half of the water from dal and then add turmeric powder, diced mangoes and green chillies.Let it cooked until dals almost mixed with water. 3. Once dal completely cooked, take out boiled mango pieces and then mash with a spatula or you can blend for smoothness. 4. Now take a skillet, heat oil and then add mustard seeds .Once mustard seeds starts splutter,add ginger paste and dry whole red chilli and saute for half a minute. 5. Add boiled mangoes and mashed dal and let it boil and then if it is too thick add one glass of water and adjust the salt.Garnish with coriander leaves and sprinkle roasted cumin powder.

You can add diced mango pieces on skillet while seasoning and then add the mashed dal.Like this if you need less spicy ,add green chillies directly on skillet while frying mustard seeds and red chilli. I generally don't add sugar,but if you taste little bitterness in dal then sprinkle little sugar on it.Or you can caramelize the oil adding sugar while heating oil.

Moong Dal with cauliflower and peas::::
A very common Bengali dish..i first had in one Bengali occasion here in USA.After having this yummy Dal i asked for the recipes to one of my near and dear ones,Mayadidi and i tried many times at home.You can try with other vegetables too and make it little more rich in taste with spices .Good for vegetarian meals with hot steaming rice and potato chips.
2 cup Moong Dal(easily available in Indian store),
7-8 medium size cauliflower florets,
1 cup frozen/fresh peas,
6-7 green chillies cut lengthwise/chopped,

1/2 tsp turmeric powder,
1/4tsp paNch foron/cumin seeds,
1 bay leaf,
1 whole red chilly,
1/2 tsp ginger paste,
1/2 roasted cumin powder,
salt as per taste,

1.Heat a frying pan,add 3 drops of oil and fry continuously Moong daal until nice aroma comes. Wash well and clean Dal in running water.Put Dal and little salt with 5-6 cups of water in a saucepan.Let it boil.You can roast Dal also.
2.Once Dal starts boiling,take out half of the water and add turmeric powder and mix lightly and let it boil again.
3.Once dal is cooked, mash well with a flat spoon or spatula nicely.Or you can blend the dal too.Keep aside.
4.Now take a pan,heat oil.Add Panch Foron/cumin seeds,bay leaf,whole red chilly and fry for a min.
5.Add ginger paste ,green chillies and fry for 2 mins and then add cauliflower florets and peas.fry for 4-5mins or untill cauliflower become light red in color.
6.Now add the cooked dal and mix thoroughly and let it boil.Sprinkle roasted cumin powder.Stir.
7.Once boiling starts,take it off from flame and garnish with fresh chopped coriander leaves.
Panch foron is the spice blend typically consisting of five whole spices in equal measure and it very commonly used in most of the Bengali and Assamese dishes.It consists of fenugreek seeds,Nigella seeds(kalonji),radhuni(can be replaced by celery seed),fennel seed and cumin seeds.You can get it in any Indian grocery shop.

Fried Moong Dal with Bottle-gourd :::

Another commonly prepared Dal in Eastern parts of India and Bangladesh.Very good and well balanced food which goes well with hot plain rice and roti.My mom prepares this dal a lot.
3 cup Moong Dal(easily available in Indian store),
1 small size bottle gourd ,peeled & diced,

6-7 green chillies cut lengthwise/chopped,

1/2 tsp turmeric powder,
1/4tsp black cumin seeds / kalonji seeds,
1 whole red chilly,
1/2 tsp ginger paste/finely chopped,
1/2 roasted cumin powder,
coriander leaves for garnishing,

salt as per taste,

1.Dry roast Moong Daal and wash in running water.
2.In a saucepan,add sufficient water and moong dal and salt & turmeric powder and let it cook.
3. Once done,smash with a flat spatula or you can blend also in a mixie / blender.
4.Now heat oil in a pan,add cumin seeds and dry red chilly.
5.When cumin seeds splutter ,add green chillies and ginger chopped/paste. Fry for half a min.
6.Now add diced bottle gourd and fry until raw smell goes off.
7.Add cooked daal ,let it boil for 3-4 mins.
8.While it starts boiling, sprinkle roasted cumin powder and adjust salt.
9.Once bottle gourd cooked,garnish with coriander leaves and Serve hot.

Alternately,when Dal is half-boiled,add diced bottle gourd and let it cook with dal only.Smash dal once cooked with a flat spatula carefully to keep intact bottle gourd pieces.

Palak Daal ::::

One of the main dishes which i prepare almost every week whenever palak/spinach are there
in my refrigerator. My son just loves to eat with Roti or Rice.This is my mother-in-law's recipe but my husband translated to me when i was newly married as i could not understand her language.

2 cups of Arhal/Toor/Tuvar/Kandi Pappu(easily available in Indian store),
2 cups of washed chopped spinach,
1 small onion chopped,
3-4 green chilli cut lengthwise,
1/2 tsp turmeric powder,
1/5 tsp mustard seeds,
1-2 broken red chilli,
a pinch of hing/asafoetida,
1/2 tsp of red chilli powder n coriander powder ,
1/4 tsp ginger paste,
6-7 tsp oil,
salt as per taste,
a pinch of sugar.

1.Wash arhar daal.Take a pressure cooker,put Dal with 2 1/2 cup of water,little oil and 1/2 tsp
turmeric powder.
2.Let it cook until 2-3 whistles.It depends what type of pressure cooker you are takes 15-20mins to cook.
3. Now let it simmer for some minutes and then switch off the gas/heater.When the pressure is off,open the lid and smash the cooked dal with a flat spatula and you can blend it to a smooth paste.
4.Now,take a pan and heat oil.Add a pinch of sugar to avoid the bitterness of spinach.
5.Add mustard seeds,whole red chilli, asafoetida/hing.
6.When mustard seeds splutter,add onions and fry nicely for half min.
7.Add green chillies,ginger paste and little bit of salt to cook onions.
8.When onions turns light brown ,add chopped spinach leaves ,red chilli powder and coriander powder and cover the pan to fry for 3-4 mins or until it gets cooked. pour the smashed Dal and add salt. simmer to cook for 5 mins.When done,serve hot with plain hot rice,roti or paratha.
I always suggest to use salt and spices how much you want.i always love little spicy but if you don't then use less green chili and no red chili powder.


  1. Hey Kaberi
    I tried your Chholar daal and it came out so well.My son and husband loved it..never knew I could make daal with chana daal!!Thanx a bunch!!!!

  2. Awesome daal series....great job!