Here’s my first attempt to recreate the amazing dal that was part of our banana leaf rice from Samy’s Curry. Oh that was the dal of dreams!
I cannot remember where I copied this recipe from (it looked promising!) but one of the main modifications I made was to increase the amount of water – those yellow lentils really soak it up. The frying of the aromatics really brings out their flavour and that all gets absorbed by the lentils. The curry leaves tasted of not much when I was eating the leftovers the next day! I have no idea what makes it Malaysian-style but that was one of reasons why I decided to try this recipe – as I’d only eaten this kind of dal in Malaysia and Singapore.
While this did taste very nice (well, positively addictive actually as we could hardly stop spooning it into our mouths), the texture wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. The dal at the banana leaf places was smoother and just felt nicer on the tongue. My dal was a bit rough – it was soft and fully cooked but it just had a bit of graininess there. Any ideas on how to improve this? I might try using red lentils next.
serves 4 as part of a meal
1 cup dried yellow lentils
3 cups water
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp + 2 tbsps ghee or oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 dried red chili
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 slices ginger, peeled and minced
20 fresh curry leaves
1 tsp garam masala
1 medium tomato, cut into 8-10 sections
salt to taste
Pick through the lentils and remove any foreign objects (I found wheat husks and once, a stone). Rinse the lentils a few times in water, until the water runs clear. In a medium sized pot, stir together the lentils, water, turmeric and 1 tsp of ghee/oil (I used oil and then chucked in a good sized lump of butter at the end!). Set it over high heat and when it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer until the lentils are soft. This should take about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add the 2 tbsps of ghee/oil. Add the mustard seeds and when they start to pop, add the chili, onion, garlic, ginger and curry leaves. Fry until the onion softens and starts to become golden. Add the garam masala and the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes start to wilt. Pour this entire mixture into the softened lentils, add salt to the pot, mix well, and continue simmering the lentils for about 5 minutes. The final mixture will be quite thick. Feel free to add more water if you like your dal thinner.
Eat with lots of rice! We ate it along with a mutter paneer that looked so lovely and tasted lovelier – thank you, Route79! That recipe really does require the simmering time as then the tomatoes mellow out (a bit of sugar helps) and don’t taste so…Italian.