Awadhi Dal

As I have had occasion to mention before, I am always on the lookout for interesting dal recipes. This one is from the Awadh (also spelt Avadh) region of India (roughly corresponding to the North-Eastern part of India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh). This is where the capital of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow is situated. Another name for this region is Oudh, derived from Ayodhya, where it is believed Lord Ram was born. But that is a fascinating story for another day. Suffice that I mention that the Muslims and the British also ruled this area. This dal probably surfaced during the Muslim rule.
This dal is not as thick as the Punjabi dals – it is more watery and less heavy. But it contains several spices and omits the ever-present onions and tomatoes used in most other dals. So, while not as thick as other dals, the spices lend an enchanting flavour to this dal.

Awadhi Dal

1 1/2 cups pigeon peas (tur dal, thuvaram parupu)
1″ piece cinnamon (dalchini, lavangathu pattai)
5 cloves (laung, kirambu)
1 large bay leaf (tej patta, brinji elai)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
1 cup almond milk
A few strands of saffron, soaked in warm almond milk
3-4 cups of water
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves (I did not use this)
To Temper
2 tsp cumin seeds (sabut jeera, jeeragam)
1-2 dried red chilis
A pinch of asafoetida (hing, perunkayam)
Cook the pigeon peas in a pressure cooker for 2 whistles (if using Instapot, cook in manual mode for 8-9 minutes)
Let the steam in the pressure cooker release naturally
Open the cooker (or Instapot)
If the lentil is not mushy, use the back of a ladle and to crush
Place the vessel back on the flame (or turn on the instapot)
Add the saffron strands and mix well
Boil for 2 minutes
Add the remaining almond milk and mix well
Cook on low flame for a little while
Meantime, heat a wok and add the cumin seeds
When they begin to splutter, add the crushed garlic and asafoetida
Finally, add the dried red chilis
Roast for a few seconds
Remove from flame and add to the boiling lentils
Switch off the flame and add coriander leaves
Serve hot with Indian flat breads or steamed red/brown/millet rice

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