Amritsari Dal

I was not a great fan of the North Indian dals – mainly because I have been used to the taste of tamarind (or something sour) with my rice. Therefore, the South Indian preparations were more suited to my taste buds. Some years ago, I decided not to have rice for dinner, but opted for Indian breads. Once again, dishes with tamarind do not pair very well with Indian breads. That was when I began exploring the dals of North India. And fell in love with several of them. One of my favourites is Amritsari dal. Thus is a rustic preparation that is bursting with taste. It has minimal spices – but is rich and creamy. It tastes even better the next day.
It is a dal that everyone must try at least one. It is a blend of two lentils – whole black lentil and split Bengal gram (split chickpea). Absolutely yum!

Amritsari Dal

1 cup whole black lentil (sabut urad dal, muzhu ulutham parupu)
1/4 cup split Bengal gram (chana dal, kadalai parupu)
4-5 cups of water to pressure cook the lentils
To Temper
5 green chilis (adjust according to tolerance level)
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 small tomato, chopped fine
2 tbsp ginger, chopped fine
2 tbsp garlic, chopped fine
1/4 tsp red chili powder (optional)
A few mint leaves, to garnish
Salt to taste
Rinse and soak the lentils overnight
Drain the lentils ands transfer to a pressure cooker
Add 1 1/2 tbsp of ginger and garlic
Cook till the lentils are soft, but not mushy (about-4-5 whistles)
Let the steam release naturally and open the lid
Transfer about half the lentils to a bowl
Mash the remaining lentils
Add the mashed lentils to the ‘whole’ lentils
Set aside
Heat a wok and add the onions till light brown (sprinkle a little water, if necessary)
Add the remaining 1/4 tbsp each of ginger and garlic
Add the green chilis
Sauté till the onion turns golden brown
Add the tomato and cook till they turn mushy
Add this mixture to the cooked lentils
Add salt and red chili powder (if using)
Simmer for 5 minutes till the dal thickens (add a little water if the dal is too thick)
Remove from flame and garnish with mint leaves
Serve hot with Indian flat breads or red/brown rice

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