There are just a few things I make well and my ‘masoor ki daal’ is one of them. A friend asked for the recipe, so I thought I’ll share the recipe and the story behind it.
Growing up, I never liked ‘daal chaawal’ (lentils with boiled white rice). But at university, my friend Fatima used to make this yummy daal and it became a staple in our flat. I was amazed at how simple the recipe was and how quickly it was ready. She taught me the recipe and to this day, it is one of my favourite comfort meals.
The other great thing is that it uses store cupboard staples, so it’s also great for days when you have run out of groceries and there are no fresh ingredients on hand. The total cooking time for both daal and rice is under 30 minutes and hardly any prep time! I prefer masoor daal because it is the fastest to cook. You could replace the masoor daal with mung or urid daal, but then your cooking times would be longer.
(the measurements are just approximations)
2 cups masoor daal (split orange lentils)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chilli powder or paprika (depending on how hot you like it)
1 tsp garam masala (optional)
salt to taste
2 cups rice
2 cups water
2-3 tsp olive oil
salt to taste
3-4 tbsp olive oil (add a bit of butter for extra flavour)
2 tsp garlic paste or 1-2 tsp garlic flakes /OR 2 medium onions finely sliced or 2-3 tbsp pre fried onions
1-2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp crushed red chilli flakes (optional)
1 tsp chaat masala (optional)
chopped corriandor for garnish (optional)
1. Wash the daal until the water runs clear (use your hands to gently rub the daal while washing and drain 2-3 times for water to run clear). Drain and add about 4 cups water and put on the stove at full heat.
2. While it comes to a boil, add turmeric, salt and red chilli (or parika) powder. Add garam masala if you want. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to low-medium.
3. Let it cook for 5-10 minutes until the daal has reduced, stir and check consistency. Cook for another 5-10 minutes until the daal has broken down and become creamy, stirring occasionally.
4. Simultaneously, wash the rice until most of the starch is washed away. Place on the cooker in a large pot and add 2 cups water for 2 cups rice.
5. Add salt, cardammons, cloves and a little olive oil to prevent the rice from sticking. Bring to boil.
6. Lower the heat to low-medium, cover and let it cook for another 5-10 minutes until rice is almost cooked. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let the rice for another 3-5 minutes. Finally, stir so that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove the cloves and cardammom pods before serving.
7. While the daal and rice are boiling, you can prepare your tarka (but fry everything only in the last 2-3 minutes when daal is ready). The best tasting tarka is with freshly cut onions, but if you’re short on time you could use fried onions or garlic paste/ flakes. Most of the flavour of the daal comes from the tarka, so getting the flavours right is the most important thing. Experiment with garlic and onions to see what you like better.
8. Heat up some oil (add a small knob of butter for extra flavour). Fry the onions until light brown and then add cumin seeds, garam masala, chilli flakes and chaat masala. [If using garlic, put everything in at the same time as garlic can burn easily]. Do this on medium heat as the tarka can burn easily. As soon as the onions become a dark golden colour, take tarka off the heat and add to the cooked daal. Cover and let it rest for a minute.
9. Serve the daal over the boiled rice. Add chopped corriander as a garnish if you want.