Every once in a while, I get tired of cooking dishes that are rich with spices or laden with a whole lot of vegetables. My palate craves for simple meals that soothe the stomach as well as fill it up without burdening it with too many calories..
That is when I dish up a simple lentil soup which is the basic recipe that almost every Indian has savoured. Its known simply as Daal in Hindi , consumed as Varan by Maharashtrains and slurped up as Towe by Kannadigas ! This is one of those recipes that would vastly help a beginner cook or an ambitious bachelor trying to navigate the way in the kitchen.
(Now if only I could motivate my brother to learn how to make this recipe, it would be a great change for him from his almost daily curd rice dinner menu !!! )
Without further ado :
1 Cup Tuvar Daal (can be substituted with Masoor Dal or even Moong Dal )
1 tomato - diced
1 - 2 green chillies, slit and chopped into two pieces
1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated or chopped finely.
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
For Tempering :
1 tsp ghee ( canola/ vegetable oil can also be used )
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp jeera
1 generous pinch of asafoetida
few springs of fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves - washed and chopped finely)
couple of tsp of fresh grated coconut
1. Boil the dal along with the green chillies,ginger, tomato and turmeric, with at least 2 Cups of water.
I usually use the pressure cooker ( 3 whistles) for this, but the dal can be boiled directly on the stove as well.
2. Once the dal is boiled, add salt, more water to get the correct consistency and boil again.
3. Meanwhile prepare the tempering. Heat the ghee or oil, add the mustard seeds and the jeera seeds and heat through until the mustard seeds start spluttering. Take off the heat, add the asafoetida, mix well and pour slowly over the dal.
4. Garnish with coriander leaves and coconut and serve hot over a bed of steaming white rice !
5. You can also sprinkle some black pepper for a stimulating taste.
This is wonderful with a dollop of ghee on top, but it can easily be skipped for the figure conscious population :-)
Its really really simple recipe, doesn't ask for too many ingredients, of course there are several ways to jazz this recipe up, if you are up to it ! For added variations, a handful of peas or diced potato can also be added to the daal before cooking it.
The dal and the rice provide complete protein. if you add vegetables to the daal, that's an added bonus ! For me, this rustic, simple recipe is almost a comfort food...When the weather cools and temperatures dip, enjoying the daal and rice is as good as wrapping a warm blanket around me ! Try it !!