Dal Fry

Dal fry is a typical North Indian lentil preparation with a distinctive and unique taste. I had always avoided making this dal as I was under the mistaken impression that the taste was primarily on account of the ghee (clarified butter) that is used in its preparation. I accidentally stumbled upon a recipe for this wonderful dish and began to read it. It was quite easy to customise it to make it WFPB compliant. So, I decided to take the plunge and prepare it. I did this with a great amount of trepidation since I was sure that it would not taste like the traditional dal fry. So, imagine my surprise when the dish turned out tasting very close to the traditional version. Since this lucky discovery about two years ago, I have made this several times, but never posted the recipe. Correcting that situation now.

Dal Fry

Ingredients
1/2 cup pigeon peas (tuvar dal, thuvaram parupu)
1 1/2 cups of water
A pinch of turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (sarson, kadugu)
1 tsp cumin seeds (sabut jeera, jeeragam)
1 medium sized onion, chopped fine
1 1/2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
2 green chilis, chopped
2 dried red chilis, broken into two
1 sprig curry leaves
A pinch of asafoetida (hing, perunkayam)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 tomato, chopped fine
1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi, ularntha venthiya keerai)
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
Salt to taste
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves to garnish
Method
Rinse the pigeon peas well and transfer to a pressure cooker
Add a pinch of turmeric powder and 1 1/2 cups of water
Cook for 6-7 whistles or till the lentil is well cooked
Let the steam release naturally and open the lid
Mash the cooked lentils lightly
Set aside
Heat a pan and add mustard seeds
When they begin to splutter, add the cumin seeds
Roast for about 30 seconds
Add onion and sauté till they turn translucent (sprinkle a little water, if necessary)
Add the ginger-garlic paste and continue to sauté till the raw smell evaporates
Add the green chilis, red chilis and curry leaves
Mix well
Add 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, red chili powder and asafoetida
Mix well
Add the tomatoes and cook till they soften
Finally, add the cooked lentils and salt
Add about 1 1/2 cups of water (adjust to your desired consistency – this dal is usually of thick consistency)
Mix well and simmer for about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally
Once the desired consistency is reached and the ingredients are well combined, crush the dried fenugreek leaves in the palm of your hand and add to the lentil
Add garam masala
Mix well and simmer for a minute
Remove from flame and garnish with coriander leaves
Serve hot with brown basmati rice or Indian flat breads
Enjoy!

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