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Dal - Reinventing Food

Reinventing Food is series of blogposts where as a chef, I will share a few of the food discoveries and recipes I am collecting throughout my world tour. Each traditional dish will be the playground for creative cooking and ideation.

India contains a large spectrum of vegetarian dishes. One of the most iconic in Rajasthan is Dal. Dal is a souplike sauce made out of lentils and sometimes you will find chickpeas or beans added to the lentils.

DAL RECIPE (Intermediate cooking level)


1/2 cup of yellow lentils

1.5 cups of water will be used to cook the lentils



1 medium size onion

1 medium size tomato

2 green chillies

2 dry red chillies

10 curry leaves

1/2 inch ginger + 3 garlic cloves made into a paste or crushed

1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder

1 teaspoon fenugreek leaves

1/2 masala powder

3 table spoon of ghee

1 teaspoon of lemon juice

2 tablespoon chopped coriander for garnish

1 cup of water to add as required

Salt to taste

Cooking Tools

A stove

A pressure pot (preferably) or cooking pot

A wok frying pan

A whisk

How to make it (25min)

1) On a pot cook the lentils (10min)

  • Pressure cook the lentils with a pinch of salt for 8-10 minutes (Tip - soak the lentils overnight with salt before cooking them). If you are cooking them on a regular pot, just cover the pot with a lid and let it cook for longer until lentils get soft. Once cooked, lightly mash the lentils with a whisk so that half gets mashed.

2) On a frying pan finish the Dal so that it is ready to be served (15min)

  • Heat the ghee, add the mustard seeds. When you hear the seeds toasting add the cumin seeds.

  • Chop the onions and fry them until their are well sweat.

  • Proceed by adding the ginger and garlic paste. Stir for a few seconds, then add the chilies and curry leaves. Keep stirring for a few minutes.

  • Now, it´s time for the spices (turmeric and red chilli powder) and the chopped tomatoes until they get soft. (Tip - for a better dal take out the tomatoes skin by blanching them and remove seeds)

  • Add the mashed lentils and stir well with some water. Let it simmer for 4-5 minutes

  • Finish it with fenugreek, masala and lemon. Add the coriander last minute.

3) Serve it with steamed rice and flatbread, also named Chapati

REINVENTING DAL AS A SNACK (Advanced cooking level)

My mind was wondering how I could make a new dish without losing Dal's own flavour and essence. I wanted to make something entirely out of this tasty sauce. That's when I thought of making a snack. My inspiration came from the simple observation that in Dal you can find two different feelings when eating it: a liquid consistency (the sauce) and a solid consistency (the bits of the remaining lentils). My idea was to take each of these two parts of the sauce separately and accentuate the contrast of consistencies by making a Dal Cracker/Chip and a Dal dip.


For the Dip:

500 ml. of liquid strained from Dal

200 ml. of greek yogurt

2 to 3 teaspoons of lime

2 tablespoons of finely chopped coriander leafs

1/3 medium sized red onion

Salt to taste

For the Cracker/Chip:

200 gr. of solid lentils strained from Dal

10gr. wheat flour

20 gr. lentil or G flour

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

2 teaspoons poppy seeds

1 small pinch of baking powder

Frying oil

Cooking Tools

A stove and an oven

A small spreading spatula

A silicon baking mat

A pot

A rolling pin

A metal strainer

How to make it

Strain the Dal to separate the liquid from the solid

Dal dip

  • First, reduce the Dal liquid from the 500 ml. to 100 ml. on a wide pot (tip - the wider the pot is the quickest it will reduce a liquid). Then let it cool down to room temperature

  • In the meantime, finely chop the red onions and coriander

  • Then mix all together the reduction, yogurt, onions, coriander and lime

  • Finish by seasoning with salt.

Dal Crackers

  • Toast all the seeds, then slightly grind them with the rolling pin and keep them on the side.

  • Blend the strained lentils

  • Mix the lentils with wheat flour, the baking powder and the lentil or gram flour. Let it rest for 10 to 30 minutes

  • Spread this wet dough on the silicon mat and sprinkle the toasted seeds on top

  • Cook it for 5-10 minutes on the oven at 110ºC before cutting the dough to shape the crackers. Finish baking until they seem almost dry outside and still wet inside

  • Fry the crackers at 160ºC


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