Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Palak Dal

I've had many friends from the land of the Gultis, as I affectionately call them. Which is interesting 'cause many others think of it as very offensive. To me personally, I had no strong parochial sentiments against people from other states and so I never used it in an offensive way. It was just an affectionate way of referring to them. But anyways, their cuisine is very rich and wonderfully flavorful. The best dishes are the various dals/lentils that they make. Having only been used the sambhar version of making lentils, I found their dals to be a treat. Totally in love with them. 

And it was such a friend who taught me this easy-breezy version of Palak Dal. It was a no mess recipe which was no wonder cause he's a guy. At that point I was living in Germany temporarily on project work and he lived in the nearby guesthouse. I got the recipe from him when we had a pot-luck dinner together. I've tried it many times and made minor changes to it depending on my taste. I've got it down to a perfect version now and it's a favorite of now just VJ but also Gabi, Marina and so many other friends who've tried it.

Tuar dal/ Moong dal - 2 cups
Spinach (frozen or fresh - chopped) - 1 cup
Onion - 1 large
Tomato - 1 medium
Tamarind paste - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Oil - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Salt - to taste

For tempering:
Oil - 1 tbsp
Jeera - 2 tsp
Green chillies/Red chillies (based upon your taste) - 4
Ginger - 2 inch piece
Garlic - 2 cloves
Red chilli powder - 2 tsp
Croainder powder - 4 tsp

1. Cut the onion and tomatoes into 1 inch pieces.
2. Defrost the spinach.
3. Wash the dal at least 3 times in clear running water and place in a pressure cooker.
4. To the above, add the spinach, onion and tomatoes with a pinch of turmeric, 1/2 tsp oil and the tamarind paste (if using).
5. Cook for 2 whistles and then on low for 15 mins. Switch off the stove and wait for pressure to release.

For tempering:
1. Finely chop the ginger, garlic and green chillies. If  using red chillies, break them into pieces and set aside.
2. Heat oil in a small kadai and splutter the jeera in it.
3. Add the ginger, garlic and chillies and fry unitl lightly browned. The trick here is to get a slightly burnt taste - BUT don't ACTUALLY burn them.
4. Switch off the stove and move the kadai to a cold stove. Now add all the dry masalas and give it a quick stir so that it is mixed with the oil. Leave in the kadai for about 30 secs.
5. Add this tempering to the dal with salt to taste and mix well. Add water as needed to get it to the consistency of your choice. It's better to keep this dal thick - tastes much better that way.

Serve with hot ghee phulkas or plain rice with lots of ghee à la Gulti style :) 

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