A few days ago a friend asked me to post a recipe for Gujarati dal. It was perfect timing on her part too as the in laws are visiting. This meant the recipe I would get to share would be as authentic as it gets.
A characteristic sweet, tart and spicy flavor is reflective of the traditional Gujarati cuisine. And the Gujarati dal is a representation of the food from Gujarat. It is also an everyday dal which means it is light on oil. Gujarati cuisine is full of tempting, mouthwatering snacks called farsaan. Some of the dishes are steamed, like this Khaman Dhokla but most farsaan is deep fried. Oh it is good, so very. But let’s stay on the topic of Dal for now.
This dal is traditionally made with Toor or Pigeon pea and is served with some rice, a vegetable dish and some papad on the side, the dal speaks of comfort food, simple everyday nourishment and a great balance of sweet, tart and spicy and hot.
It is important to note that the traditional Gujarati dal is thinner in consistency than the other dals. It is also important to know that once the dal is cooked and you let it settle, a very watery liquid floats to the top. If that happens, you have achieved the Gujarati Dal hall of fame. The watery liquid floating to top is a sign that the consistency of your dal is great and that you can now serve it with some aplomb.
I am lucky to learn the traditional Gujarati cuisine from my Mother and Father in law. They both are adventurous about food. So they enjoy my Whole world cooking adventures and teach me the nuances of Gujarati food. I couldn’t be in a better foodie world. Touchwood!
- Some other names for the toor dal are arhar dal, Togari bele, gandule bean, thuvara parippu, kandi pappu.
- While boiling any dal, a frothy layer forms on top even when you have washed it multiple times before cooking. I usually wait for this froth to form and then skim it off before adding the spices. If using a pressure cooker to cook dal, this froth makes the pressure cooker release liquid with force and ends up making the kitchen very messy.
- 1 cup toor daal
- 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
- 1/2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
- 6 to 8 curry leaves
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp peanuts not roasted
- 1 to 2 whole dry red chili
- 2 tsp chili powder or use cayenne for hot, Paprika for mild
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 3 to 4 whole black pepper
- 1 to 2 cloves
- 1/4 tsp asafoetida
- 2 to 3 pcs of kokum also known as mangosteen
- 1 1/2 tbsp jaggery
- 1 tbsp ghee
- salt to taste
Wash the dal throughly.
Put the toor daal, 3 cups water in a pressure cooker. Allow to come to boil and the froth to form. Skim the froth off and then add salt to taste. I usually pressure cook it for 4 minutes after the pressure cooker has reached it steam point. You can follow the instructions of your pressure cooker manufacturer.
After 4 minutes, switch off the heat and let it rest till the steam is released.
Open the lid up and put the pressure cooker back on the heat and add two cups of water.
Using a stirrer/masher, vigorously stir/mash the daal so that it turns into a consistent soup without any grainy bits of dal.
Add finely chopped ginger, dry red chili, turmeric, chili powder, whole black pepper, cloves, peanuts, curry leaves, kokum, salt
Let it boil at medium heat for about 7 to 10 minutes
Make the Vagar ( tempering)
In a separate small frying pan, take the ghee and heat it up
Add the mustard seeds, chopped garlic and asafetida.
Add the Vagar to the boiling dal and mix throughly.
Let it all boil at medium heat for 5 minutes (add a cup of water if the dal looks thick)
Add the jaggery and the lemon juice and mix thoroughly
Remove from heat and let the daal settle for at least 10 minutes before serving. It tastes better the next day.