Hi, Ray here again.
This weekend I was looking through the great range of curry recipes on the Curry Focus website and decided that I should eat a really healthy curry. Not that I eat many unhealthy curries. A couple of nights ago I was sitting in a great local curry house and talking about my love of curries. One of the group at my table expressed horror that I didn’t use ghee, saying that it gave curries such a great taste. Whilst I agree that ghee often does add to the taste, my body recoils at the thought of the saturated fat in ghee. I usually eat 2 or 3 curries a week so I’ll bypass the ghee before I need a bypass.
So this weekend would be a really healthy weekend. I flicked through the range of dal recipes and decided to go for the chana dal recipe. Dal is such a tasty and nutritious food that is easy to make and, as a side benefit, is a really cheap meal.
I already had the ingredients and did not need to pick up anything during the weekly Saturday shop. Or so I thought. I soaked the dal overnight and Sunday afternoon saw me getting the other ingredients ready. I don’t know what made me do it, but I pulled off the top of the asafoetida (hing) container and could hardly smell anything. Not what I expected. So I checked the “use by” date on the container and saw that the asafoetida was way out of date. I usually only buy about 1 to 2 month’s supply of spices at a time but asafoetida comes in a predetermined container in my local Indian food shop. So I quickly went and bought a new container of asafoetida. I opened the container when I got home and there was the familiar really strong smell of asafoetida.
I finished preparing the dal ingredients, drained the chana dal and gave it a final rinse. All ready to start cooking.
As I said earlier, cooking dal is very easy and, after the initial long cook of the dal, I was soon cooking the tarka and starting to microwave the rice. Cooking the tarka is really the trickiest part of making the chana dal because it becomes very dry when the coconut is added and needs to be stirred all the time to stop it from sticking.
Pretty soon I was serving up the Chana Dal on basmati rice to the hungry, eager, diners.
And it was terrific. The dal was nice and thick (I think there’s nothing worse than a runny dal). You can check out the dal image to see the consistency of the dal. Everything was well cooked and the red/orange of the dal was a great contrast to some of the bland curries that sometimes come out of the kitchen. The asafoetida had done its job as there was a reasonable onion/garlic taste (asafoetida is a substitute for garlic and onion for Jains). The chana dal received an excellent taste score of 8.5 out of 20 with a spice/heat level of “Mild”. If you want a “hotter” dal then you could chop up one or two chillies and add them to the tarka.
You really get a lot of dal with this recipe and the leftover dal is now sitting in my freezer with my supply of weekday lunches.
If you like dal, you’ll love this chana dal recipe.