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  • Mixed Dal Tarka

    YIELD: 10 CUPS / 2.4 L
    TOOLS: You’ll need a large bowl to soak the dal and split gram; a heavy-bottomed, 6-quart / 6-L stockpot or Dutch oven with a lid; a food processor; and an 8-inch / 20-cm frying pan.

    This is my parents’ go-to dal that they order when they eat in Indian restaurants. Tarka refers to the finishing touch when you heat and spice oil or ghee and add it to the cooked dal. Indians don’t typically eat dal cooked with a lot of cream and oil, so this is a perfect way to make the homestyle version a little fancier without overpowering it. It usually comes to the table sizzling.

    • ¾ cup /160 g duhli moong dal (dried, split, and skinned green dal), picked over and washed (they look yellow)
    • ¾ cup /130 g duhli masoor dal (dried, split, and skinned red lentils), picked over and washed
    • ¾ cup /150 g chana dal (dried, split, and skinned gram or black chickpeas), picked over and washed
    • ¾ cup /160 g duhli urad (dried, split, and skinned black dal), picked over and washed
    • 7 cups /1.7 L water (room temperature or boiling)
    • 1 medium tomato, roughly chopped
    • 4 tablespoons /60 mL ghee or vegetable oil, divided
    • ½ teaspoon hing (asafetida)
    • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
    • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
    • 1 medium yellow or red onion, finely minced
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
    • 1 (2-inch / 5-cm) piece ginger, peeled and grated or minced
    • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and grated or minced
    • 1–4 fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed and finely sliced
    • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
    • 2 teaspoons red chile powder or cayenne pepper
    • 1 tablespoon salt
    • 1 small yellow or red onion, finely minced, for garnish
    • Brown or white basmati rice, Roti, or Naan, for serving
    1. Combine the 4 legumes in a deep bowl. Cover with water and set aside to soak for 3 to 6 hours. Because the legumes in this recipe are split, they take less time to soak and cook than their whole versions.
    2. Drain the legumes. Combine the 7 cups / 1.7 L of water and the legumes in a heavy-bottomed, 6-quart / 6-L stockpot or Dutch oven over medium–high heat and bring to a boil.
    3. Reduce the heat to medium–low and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes, until the legumes are soft and have a porridge-like consistency. A film may form as they cook. Just skim it off the top and discard. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside to cool slightly as you prep the remaining ingredients.
    4. In the bowl of a food processor, grind the tomato into a watery paste. You can also finely dice it, but my kids prefer not to bite into cooked tomatoes. Set aside.
    5. In an 8-inch /20-cm frying pan over medium–high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the ghee. Add the hing, cumin and mustard seeds and cook for 40 seconds, until the seeds sizzle and turn reddish-brown. Keep the lid handy, as the mustard seeds will pop. Add the onion and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the onion is browned and caramelized. Stir well.
    6. Add the turmeric, ginger, and garlic to the frying pan and cook for 3 minutes. Add the ground tomato from Step 4 and the fresh chiles and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the oil starts to pull away from the sides. Add the Garam Masala and cook for 1 minute, until cooked through. Stir well, remove from the heat, and transfer the contents of the frying pan to the stockpot containing the legumes.
    7. Return the stockpot to medium–high heat. Add the red chile powder and salt, stir well, and cook for 5 minutes, until warmed through. Remove from the heat.
    8. Return the frying pan to medium–high heat and warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee. Make a tarka by adding the minced onion to the pan and cooking for 8 minutes, until the onion is crispy and browned. Remove from the heat.
    9. Transfer the legumes to a large serving bowl. Pour the tarka over the legumes. Serve with the brown or white basmati rice, Roti, or Naan.

Indian For Everyone by Anupy Singla. Copyright © 2014 Anupy Singla. Published by Agate Publishing. All rights reserved.

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