Dal (lentil) fry is a delicious and sumptuous bowl of health that’s a daily dish in most Indian homes. This dal fry recipe uses chana dal or split Bengal grams is a thicker and more delicious version of the daily dal. The tempering or tadka takes it to a new high. Serve with rice, some curry or even parathas for a complete meal.
“Ordinary folk prefer familiar tastes – they’d sooner eat the same things all the time – but a gourmet would sample a fried park bench just to know how it tastes.”
― Walter Moers
I think Walter was onto something with this statement. Ordinary folks, folks like you and me are perfectly fine with familiar food. Food doesn’t need to be never tried before octopus or crocodile..or camel to excite us. True, we do love to try out the occasional squid and duck, but honestly,as far as I am concerned, I am not a gourmet. Reasons stated above.
I like simple food..food that I grew up with, food that is familiar to me..food that doesn’t need to make a statement that you are eating it. Nothing against gourmets, but they have courage I simply lack. I don’t think I can ever try crocodile or camel for that matter. Yikes!! The inner vegan goddess is me doing all kinds somersaults at the thought of it. But what I love is to sit back at the end of the day and relax over a plate of food that brings out memories of home in me..or may be helps me start a good new tradition of my own. Case in point is my tequila fired chicken, that was new at my home and we love it so much that we often fire up our grills with this. But the dish I am going to share with you today is so simple it doesn’t even need an introduction..or to tell you what dal (lentil) fry tastes like.
I grew up in Orissa, a paddy rich state in the Eastern side of India..a state whose moniker is the land of temples…a state of golden beaches, green paddy fields and clear blue skies..of humble,sincere people and rich art, of the mesmerizing mudras of Odissi and the brilliant strokes of Pattachitra, the land of Ikat and myriad weaves and also a land filled with humble educated people who believe in eating simple and living simple. You wont find Delhi style show sha in my state..no one boasts of the latest Audi they bought or the Greece trip..no one will boast of huge solitaires or the humungous amount of money they splurged on designer stuff. They might boast about how well educated their daughter in law is, or that their child went to IIM or Ivy League for post grad. They might talk about the how the latest poem or painting by their friend sold first in the auction, or how their daughter performed in an international dance festival. The point is, we are a simple race..a group of people who still believe in slow living and are far away from the show that most people today think is success. We are also a state that is enamored by the nutritious and sumptuousness that are lentils.
Lentil or dal is something that was a daily affair while growing up. There was nothing novel about a bowl of dal to me while growing up. Starting the regional favorite Dalma (lentil mixed with vegetables), to the usual Arhar dal tadka, panch rangi dal ( 5 mixed lentil soup), chana dal with bottle gourd, urad dal tadka with egg, dal with coconut milk, there was always a bowl of dal something on the table, usually for lunch. Coming back from school, lunch was a filling and healthy meal of rice, dal, roti, 2 veg dishes, a type of saag,salad and curd – daily!! My mother still makes this kind of lunch at home, habits die hard i guess. Out of all the types of dal that i make, dal makhni , coconut milk dal and this dal (lentil) fry are my absolute favorites.
There is nothing much to making a bowl of lentil..its an easy simple dish that takes 20 minutes, even at its most luxuriant avatar. The exception being dal makhni which needs to be simmered for at least an hour to reach the proper consistency. But this dal (lentil) fry is an usual, everyday kind of dal dish that you can make in a jiffy and enjoy with some steamed rice, simple pulao or even roti. Its a bowl of health for you and loved ones and lentils are especially essential for children. I ensure my daughter has two bowls of dal every day and thankfully she has inherited my love of dal.
This dal though is a simple thing of pressure cooked lentils cooked with a simple onion, tomato mix and then a delicious flavorful tempering or tadka is poured on top of the day, breathing life into the insipidness of it, and turning it into a dal worth salivating for.
Make this delicious dal (lentil) fry and gift yourself & your family a bowl of simple good health.
- Chana Dal/ Split Bengal gram - 1 cup
- Water - 2 cups
- Onion - 1 ,chopped fine
- Tomato - 2 , chopped fine
- Green chillies -2 , chopped fine
- Ginger - 2 inch
- Garlic- 5-6 cloves
- Dried fenugreek leaves or kasuri methi - 2 tbsp
- Turmeric powder - ½ tsp
- Salt as per taste
- Lemon wedges
- Coriander chopped for garnish.
- Ingredients for tadka or tempering:
- Kashmiri Red chilli powder - 1 tsp (adjust as per taste)
- ½ tsp asafoetida or hing
- 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- Dried Red chillie -2
- Ghee/Clarified butter - 1 tsp
- Start by washing the lentils clean. Soak it for 20 mins.
- Pressure cook the lentils for 5-6 whistles in water, salt and turmeric. Wait for the pressure to release naturally. Once done, open the lid and set it aside. Drain and reserve the water.
- Heat some (1 tbsp) oil + ghee in a kadhai or deep cauldron/ dutch oven..
- Once hot, add the pounded ginger-garlic-green chillies to it.
- Saute for 2 mins on medium flame ensuring it doesn't burn. Add the chopped onion to it and saute for another 3-4 mins till onions are soft and golden brown.
- Add the chopped up tomatoes and fry the masala till the tomatoes are mixed in..another 3-4 mins. (Add just a dash of water if it sticks, it wont if using a non stick kadhai)
- Add the cooked lentils to the masala..give it a good mix.
- Add 1 cup of the reserved lentil water to it, adjust salt accordingly.
- Let it come to a boil ,then simmer for 10 mins till reaches the desired consistency. Add water as and when needed to reach the consistency you prefer. I prefer it a little thicker.
- Serve hot, with coriander leaves and a squeeze of lemon juice.
- For the tempering:
- Heat ghee / clarified butter in a small tadka pan. Once hot, add the seeds and fried red chillies, followed by the hing and red chillie. Fry for 15 secs till everything has popped and is fragrant. DO NOT let it burn. Pour immediately on the cover with a lid. Rest the dal for 10 mins before giving it a stir and serving.
Or simply let it slow cook in water and coconut milk till done. Should be done in 30 minutes.