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
A pressure pot (preferably) or cooking pot
A wok frying pan
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
A stove and an oven
A small spreading spatula
A silicon baking mat
A rolling pin
A metal strainer
How to make it
Strain the Dal to separate the liquid from the solid
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.
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