South Indian Dal Tadka

South India has a number of dals that are not commonly known. I have grown up on some of them and really miss them as I do not remember the recipes, only the taste. But I will rectify this situation with experimentation. It is in one of these experiments that evolved into this recipe – a delicious dal that will go wonderfully with Indian breads. It is close to one of the dals that I used to have in my childhood, but not exactly the same. Though this is mildly spiced, it is still spicier than the one I used to have.
But am I excited this dal turned out well – indeed yes. It is a unique tasting dish and has an almost perfect blend of spices. I, of course, paired it with both rice and Indian breads. Both were very good combinations.

South Indian Dal Tadka

1/4 cup pigeon peas (tur dal, thuvaram parupu)
2 tbsp split mung lentils (moong dal, paasi parupu)
2 tbsp Bengal gram (chana dal, kadalai parupu)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (hadli, manjal podi)
1″ piece cinnamon (dal chini, pattai)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (sabut jeera, jeeragam)
1 onion, chopped
3 green chilis, slit
1/2 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 tomato, chopped
Unrefined salt to taste
1/4 tsp red chili powder
1/4 tsp coriander powder (dhania powder, kothamalli podi)
1/2 tsp garam masala
A pinch of dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
1 tsp chopped coriander leaves
To Temper
1 tsp cumin seeds
A pinch of asafoetida (hing, perunkayam)
1 tsp chopped garlic
2 dried red chilis, each broken into two
1/2 tsp red chili powder
Add 2 cups of water to a pressure cooker
Add the three lentils (split mung lentil, Bengal gram and pigeon peas)
Add the turmeric powder
Cover and cook for 5 whistles (it should be well cooked, but not mushy)
Let the steam release naturally
Open the lid and set aside
Heat a wok and add the cinnamon, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Sauté for about 30 seconds
Add the chopped onion and continue to sauté till the onion is translucent (sprinkle a little water if necessary)
Next add the green chilis, ginger and garlic
Sauté till the raw smell of the onion and garlic evaporates, about a minute
Add the tomato and salt
Continue to sauté till the tomato is mushy
Next add 1/4 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp coriander powder and 1/2 tsp garam masala
Sauté for about a minute more
Add the cooked lentils and water to achieve desired consistency
Cook on medium flame for 5 minutes|
Sprinkle the dried fenugreek leaves and the coriander leaves
The dal is ready, but needs to be tempered
Heat a wok and add the cumin seeds, asafoetida, garlic
Sauté on low flame for about a minute
Add the dried red chilis
Sauté for 20 seconds and turn the flame off
Add the chili powder and mix well
Add this tempering to the cooked lentils
Serve hot with Indian breads or steamed red/brown/millet rice

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