Dal/Pappu finds a place in almost all the varied regional cuisines in India. And more often than not, it also ranks high on everyones comfort food ranking. Simmering lentils akin to bread baking, fill the kitchen with an aroma that calms our senses and gets us to a happy place. A long road trip usually ends with a comforting pappu dolloped over warm rice. None of the exotic biryani's or complex stews will ever garner the same effect that my mom's rasams, my frnd Manjari's tomato pappu, and now V's spinach pappu receive.
But until recently, I've been partial to using kandi pappu/Toor dal alone with an occasional presence of moong dal in my kitchen. As I began reading other blogs I came across recipes using chana dal, urad dal & masoor dal. I had never cooked with masoor before, urad was mainly for idli/dosa and chana dal was for adai and popu/tadkas alone. I began to experiment with them and added some newness to my dal repertoire. Masoor dal are bright orange colored lentils that cook really quickly and so you don't have to bring the pressure cooker out at all. One less dish to clean makes them an immediate winner in my books. It has creamy,mellow taste and can be paired with many vegetables.
Chana dal on the other hand is robust, holds up to longer cooking times and stands up to pungent flavorings. These pale yellow lentils are surprisingly made from kala chana. The outer skin of the kala chana is peeled and the legume is split to yield chana dal. The slight downside of this lentil is that it causes flatulence when eaten in large portions. But since we come from a country that knows how to use its spices this effect is mitigated by cooking it with carminative ingredients such as hing/ginger/cumin/coriander. So no reason to not try it if you already haven't.
Chane ki dalIngredients:
- 1 cup - Chana dal/ Yellow split peas, washed in multiple changes of water and soaked for 2-3 hours
- 2 nos - Tomatoes, chopped (~ 1/2 cup)
- 1 tsp each - Ginger & Garlic, finely minced & crushed (or) store bought paste
- 1 -2 nos - Green chilli, finely minced (adjust to personal preference)
- 1 tsp - Cumin seeds
- 3/4 tsp - Coriander seed powder
- 1/4 tsp - Turmeric
- 1 Tbsp - Oil/Butter
- Salt to taste
- Cilantro & a dollop of butter for garnishMethod:
- Place the drained & soaked chana dal in a saucepan, add water such that it rises an inch above the lentils and cook until tender. The lentils should yield to pressure when crushed between your fingers but still hold their shape.
- In another pan, heat the oil and cumin seeds, when they begun to sizzle add the crushed ginger, garlic and chillies. Cook for about 30 seconds until their rawness is coaxed out.
- Tomatoes, turmeric, coriander powder and some salt go in next. Cook on medium heat until the tomatoes turn to mush and the oil begins to separate out and pool around the edges.
- The lentils should be done by now, add the tomato mixture and water (if needed) and stir to incorporate. Also taste for seasonings now & add more salt if needed.
- Simmer on a low heat for 6-8 mins allowing the to flavors to meld together. Garnish with chopped cilantro &/ butter on top.Notes:Soaking the lentils before hand reduces the cooking time and tempers their flatulent nature. If you don't have a few hours, do a quick soak by using warm water, for about 30mins. When cooking them in saucepan, skim away any foam that rises to the surface.I've also made this dal by browning thinly slices onions in the oil before adding the tomatoes. Add a sprinkle of garam masala at the very end for a variation in taste.I also made a recipe for Paraati Chana that used 1/2 chana dal & 1/2 Chickpeas. Add ginger, garlic & mint leaves paste after the oil separates out and some tamarind pulp too.
This is an incredibly flavorful dal with layers of aromas and spices. Since the lentil holds its shape you can distinctly taste its flavor among all the other spices in there. It goes well with rotis/plain rice/jeera rice, I could even have it by itself. Its my new favorite dal recipe to make when I get bored of eating toor dal. Do let me know what your favorite dal/pappu recipe is or if you have a different recipe for cooking with chana dal.