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  • Toor Dal
    Spiced Split Pigeon Peas

    YIELD: 8 CUPS / 1.9 L
    TOOLS: You’ll need a heavy-bottomed, 6-quart / 6-L stockpot or Dutch oven with a lid; an 8-inch / 20-cm frying pan; a plate; a mortar and pestle or spice grinder; a food processor; and a small mixing bowl.

    At once hearty and earthy, toor dal is the base for the South Indian stew sambhar, but is just as delicious in its own right. I love this combination of savory and spicy with a touch of sweet. It’s perfect over a scoop of basmati rice.

    • 3 cups /680 g duhli toor dal (dried, split, and skinned pigeon peas), picked over, washed, and soaked for 2–4 hours, and drained
    • 10 cups /2.4 L water
    • 4–5 pieces dried kokum
    • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
    • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
    • 1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
    • 2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
    • 1–4 fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 6–8 whole dried red chiles
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
    • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
    • 3 whole cloves
    • 1 (2-inch / 5-cm) stick cinnamon
    • 15–20 curry leaves
    • 1 (1-inch / 3-cm) piece gur (jaggery) or 1 tablespoon light brown sugar

      ½ teaspoon tamarind paste

    • ½ teaspoon tamarind paste
    • 1 tablespoon salt
    • Brown or white basmati rice, for serving
    1. Combine the duhli toor dal, water, and kokum in a heavy-bottomed, 6-quart / 6-L stockpot or Dutch oven over medium–high heat and bring to a boil.
    2. Reduce the heat to medium–low and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside to cool while you prep the remaining ingredients. Remove and discard the kokum pieces before adding other ingredients.
    3. Combine the coriander and cumin seeds in an 8-inch / 20-cm frying pan over medium–high heat and cook for 5 minutes, until the seeds turn reddish-brown and become aromatic. During the entire cooking time, shake the pan every 15 to 20 seconds to prevent the spices from burning. When roasting spices, never leave the pan unattended—they burn easily. Remove from the heat, transfer to a plate, and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
    4. Transfer the roasted spices to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind them into a powder.
    5. In the bowl of a food processor, grind the onion until smooth. Transfer to a plate. Add the tomatoes and fresh chiles to the bowl of the food processor and grind into a watery paste. No need to wash the food processor bowl in between. Transfer the tomato–chile paste to a small mixing bowl and set aside.
    6. Return the same frying pan to medium–high heat and warm the oil. Add the dried chiles, turmeric, mustard seeds, cloves, cinnamon, and curry leaves and cook for 1 minute, until the mustard seeds pop and the leaves are curled and browned. Keep a lid handy—the seeds pop out when hot.
    7. Very, very carefully, fold the ground onion from Step 5 into the mixture in the frying pan. It’s a wet mixture, and it will splatter once it hits the hot oil. Stir well and cook for 3 minutes, until the onion is browned and slightly caramelized.
    8. Add the puréed tomato from Step 5, the gur, and the tamarind paste to the frying pan. Stir well and cook for 8 minutes, until the mixture is thickened. Remove from the heat and transfer the contents of the frying pan to the stockpot containing the duhli toor dal.
    9. Return the stockpot to medium heat and add the salt and the roasted coriander and cumin seeds from Step 4. Stir well and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until heated through. Remove from the heat.
    10. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve immediately ladled over the brown or white basmati rice.

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

© 2016 Alta Editions LLC.