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Oct 1, 2009 05:14 AM

October 09 COTM: "Indian" Legumes

Welcome to the October 2009 Chow Cookbook of the Month featuring:

Classic Indian Cooking, by Julie Sahni
Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking

Please post your full-length reviews of *Legumes* recipes here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the book or author and page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

This thread will encompass the following chapters-

Jaffrey, "Pulses"
Sahni, legume recipes from "Main Dishes" and "Side Dishes"

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. A couple nights ago (I'm already cheating!) I was craving some dal. I usually wing it when I make dal, but this time I scrupulously followed Jaffrey's "daily dal" as printed in The Telegraph ( except I didn't have any hing. (But do you really need hing when the recipe calls for onion and garlic?)

    I wasn't expecting the dish to be intensely flavorful, but I was still a bit disappointed with its mildness. I think this dal would be nice to serve alongside spicier dishes. But for a simple meal with rice, I kept reaching for the garlic pickle.

    9 Replies
    1. re: padkimao

      I don't know what "hing" is. I didn't see it mentioned in the Telegraph recipe either.

      Any explational will be greatly appreciated.

        1. re: oakjoan

          Hing is asafoetida, a rather pungent spice (notice the 'foetida' = 'fetid' part of its name) that becomes more pleasant when cooked, although it's still used in rather small quantities, and gives an onion/leek flavor to dishes. Hence padkimao's question on whether it's even needed if a dish already contains onions & garlic (although I'd say yes, it would impart another dimension). People who avoid onions, etc. for religious reasons use hing to impart similar flavors to dishes. You'll recognize it as part of that distinctive Indian spice shop smell.

          Lots more cool info here:

          1. re: Karen_Schaffer

            Aha! Asafoetida I've heard of. Just never heard it called hing before. Thanks so much for the clarification.

            1. re: LulusMom

              I think it's believed to aid digestion, as well as impart flavour.

              1. re: greedygirl

                I prefer to use "hing" because I won't misspell it. ; )

                1. re: padkimao

                  Almost spit my drink at the screen - that is so funny, and a great explanation. Hing it is.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    I think hing is an acquired taste. I have never seen anybody like it the first time they try it.

        2. re: padkimao

          We recently made this recipe and unlike you I loved the mildness. However when reheating it the bowl with the chili in it was nicely spicy. You might like to give it another go

        3. Lentils with Garlic Butter, Masar Dal
          Sahni, page 332

          Though she prefers pink lentils, I had fresh yellow lentils from my local Indian Market. I made the full recipe so that we would have lots of leftovers.

          Pick and clean the lentils. [Mine were almost spotless!] before putting into a large pot with some turmeric and 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes. Stir during the cooking time to prevent lumps. Whisk or beat with a spoon to cream the lentils. At this point, the lentils can sit for up to three days. Mine sat for two hours while I waited for clients to stop calling. Before serving, bring the dal up to temperature slowly. Meanwhile in a separate frying pan, heat 5 tablespoons of oil to medium heat and fry 6 cloves of thinly sliced garlic until it is browned and soft. Dump the garlic mixture into the dal pot.

          I could not bring myself to start with 5 tablespoons of oil, and reduced to 3, of which, I only added about two to the dal. However, all of the garlic went in.

          Tasting this before the meal, it felt a little flat. I added a little salt which improved the flavor [I had forgotten to add it earlier], but I still felt that the dal had no "wow" factor. But Sahni calls this her "everyday" dal, so I decided to trust her. And she was right. In context with other spicy foods this was a great side. She suggests serving it in a bowl, which I did. However at the table, I ended up putting small amounts on the plate so that I could mix in some rice and eat them together. This is a great side dal when served with spicy foods, but I would not consider it a "main" dal.

          Served with cocktail koftas [Jaffrey, page 47], Cauliflower with fennel and mustard seeds [Jaffrey, page 146], Yogurt with cucumber and mint [Jaffrey, page 210], and plain, easy to cook rice [Jaffrey, page 192.]

          2 Replies
          1. re: smtucker

            I served the Masar Dal again last night when company unexpectedly came to dinner. The flavors and texture were much changed and I really enjoyed this.

            Served with Royal Braised Lamb with Fragrent Spices [Sahni, page 174], Carrots, peas and potatoes flavored with cumin [Jaffrey, page 147], leftover cauliflower, tamarind-date chutney and the leftover Yogurt and Mint riata.

            1. re: smtucker

              I made this last night and served it with Sahni's chicken braised in yoghurt (reported on in the appropriate thread). I really enjoyed it, but I think it's subtle flavours would go better with a spicier dish. There's lots left over, so I'm going to try it with something else soon.

              I used toovar dal, by the way, or yellow lentils, which I think is the same as here toor dal but I'm not sure.

          2. Chana Masala

            I used Sahni's Murgh Masala recipe, substituting an equivalent weight of chickpeas.


            I used a little more than half the amount of oil suggested, which worked out fine in my non-stick pan. On a whim I threw in a few cloves with the whole spices. While the dish was cooking I was afraid it was a dud, but adding the toasted cumin at the end totally transformed it. A very tasty dish, maybe better than my usual chana masala recipe.

            1. Lentils with Garlic Butter p332 Sahni's book

              She calls these masar dal, I am used to calling them masoor, never heard of them called masar but it must be so if she says so. I found it very odd that she said you could sub toor daal for masoor, because masoor is a very delicately flavored daal and toor has a loud and distinct undertaste.

              I was wary of what other posters had said before (see above) that the daal was flavorless. I must say that a nice home cooked daal doesn't have explosive flavors, it is mild comfort food, and one can pep it up by having some pickle on the side, mix it with rice and a dollop of yoghurt, or just drink it as a soup.

              But this recipe looked like the daal taste would be too flat as the only additives were salt, turmeric, oil, and garlic. I adjusted a bit, using my own typical "daily daal" recipe which is often a moong-masoor mix with fresh ginger and turmeric and salt, then a tempering of cumin seeds, garlic slivers, and 2-3 dried red chiles. Really this is a very mild daal, and sometimes I change it up a bit with chunks of tomato, fresh green chile in the daal boil, curry leaves in the tempering, and so on.

              So for this recipe, I used plain masoor, I knew she was saying to use too much water, 5 cups is way too much. I used four, and that was suitable and still watery. I added a tsp each of ginger and garlic paste to daal boil, plus two whole slit fresh green chiles to give a subtle flavor and hint of heat. For the tempering, I added cumin seeds to the garlic sliver oil.

              I garnished with fresh cilantro.

              It was a very nice daal, very mild and homey comfort food for a good ole meal of daal chawal.

              We ate it with basmati rice and left over Roghan Josh (see meat section for review), naan (although this simple daal is best with fresh fire puffed rotis (phulkay) plus Mitchell's brand mango pickle and some yoghurt.

              3 Replies
              1. re: luckyfatima

                Oh wonderful. As I said above, I really liked this dal, but I suspect that your additions bring the dal to another level. Can't wait to try this again! Thanks.

                1. re: luckyfatima

                  I actually found I needed to add more water - five cups wasn't enough.

                  1. re: greedygirl

                    Maybe toor daal sucks up more water or has a longer cooking time so you keep having to add water.

                2. Mixed Lentils and Vegetable Stew or Gujarati Daal p. 280-282 Classic Indian Cooking Julie Sahni

                  I love Gujarati daal so I was interested in trying Sahni's recipe. I bought a packet of pre-cut sambhar vegetables at the grocery store. It contained green beans, eggplant, two types of regular gourd, okra, and some bitter gourd. Sahni's recipe only calls for summer squash or zuccini, and eggplant as the veg, but I went ahead and threw everything in.

                  Gujarati daal is usually made with toor daal, which is not my favorite, so I was happy to see Sahni suggest a daal medley, toor, moong, masoor, and channa daal, about equal portions of each adding up to one cup of dried lentils. To my horror I saw that I was out of toor daal...I don't cook with it often so I hadn't noticed. I used 2/3 channa and 1/3 masoor. So it wasn't proper Gujarati daal in that respect. But I will use the daal medley idea next time to reduce the toor flavor but keep it in the recipe.

                  I am no expert in Gujarati cooking, but my neighbors are Gujarati and I have a couple of Gujarati cookbooks, and in all of them, this veg daal combo has sugar/jaggery and a squeeze of lemon juice in it. My neighbors also add peanuts. I went ahead and added about 1 tbs of jaggery and 1 tbs lemon juice at the end of the dish, too, even though Sahni doesn't mention it.

                  The instructions are to boil the daal with ginger, garlic, turmeric, and green chiles. I slit the green chiles rather than chopped them so that the daal would be mildly hot. Sahni mentions that this dish typically has no garlic (Jain food), but she likes to add garlic, so I did, too. Fresh curry leaves are added at the end of this dish as the final seasoning.

                  I have made Gujju daal (neighbor's recipe) and also sambhar before in a 'diet' manner by blanching the vegetables before adding them to cook further in the daal. Traditionally I believe they are briefly deep fried. Sahni has a great middle way solution to this: you add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds to oil, stir in hing, then add in the tomatoes fry a bit, then add the veg and fry further, so you end up initiating the cooking by stir frying the ingredients so they get a good flavor, which gives them more depth than the blanching and is lower in fat than the deep fry. What a great idea. I am going to use this method in all of my veg daal combos from now on. It makes the veg very tasty and the taste of the oil and spice gets inside of the veg.

                  I didn't peel the tomatoes as Sahni suggested, and so the tomato skins were there in my daal since by the end of cooking my tomatoes had broken down...I do believe that they were supposed to remain a bit whole.

                  Anyhow, the recipe was very good. We enjoyed very much. Served with hot roti and basmati rice, plus a mutton curry leftover from the weekend.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: luckyfatima

                    That looks SOOO good! When your neighbour adds peanuts, are the peanuts whole? That sounds interesting.

                    1. re: Channa

                      Yes they are whole pan roasted peanuts added in at the end of cooking at the same stage you would stir in the lemon juice and jaggery, say about 2-3 tbs.

                      1. re: luckyfatima

                        Thanks for the reply. Since the peanuts are added at the end, one could remove a portion of the dal to give them a try.