2 cups moog dal (split and husked)
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
A pinch asafetida
2-3 green chiles, sliced along their length
5-6 curry leaves, washed and dried on a towel
1/3 cup chopped white or yellow onion
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tbsp salt
Juice of half a lemon
1/8 cup chopped cilantro, loosely packed
Pick over and clean moog dal of any debris. Rinse several times in a colander. If you have time, soak for a couple of hours in several cups of water.
Heat oil in pan of pressure cooker. When it shimmers, add mustard seeds. When they pop, add asafetida. Add green chiles and curry leaves. Make sure these last two ingredients are not wet as that minimizes the splatter and post-cooking clean-up. If necessary, tip the pan to one side so that everything gets a nice sizzle in the oil. Cover the pan if you’re afraid of getting it into your eyes. Just don’t add all the ingredients at the same time. I can’t emphasize this enough.
Add the onions and stir fry for a couple of minutes.
Add minced garlic and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Add turmeric powder and mix.
Add rinsed dal. If your dal was soaked, drain the water before adding the dal.
Add 6-7 cups of water, making sure you are below the 2/3rd capacity of the pressure cooker.
Add salt and mix.
Cook under pressure until the dal is fully cooked to the “fall-apart” stage. You do not want it al-dente. My moog dal never cooks quickly. I let it go to 4 pressure releases or “whistles,” about 25-30 minutes.
Add lemon juice and cilantro and mix. Adjust seasoning.
I add about 2-3 cups of water to thin it out as we like our dals to be a little runny, instead of super thick. Also, the dal thickens on standing so it’s better to thin it out at the outset.
Serve hot over steamed rice, with yogurt and lemon pickle on the side.
Our dals are usually very simple. We don’t add goda or garam masala to our dals. Nor onions or garlic, unless it is a patal bhaji of sorts, with greens in it. Ginger, yes. The souring agent of choice is usually tamarind or kokum. This dal is a departure from the traditional dal made by my family. And, we like it.
We got two dinners and 3 lunch boxes out of this 2 cup dal. Lunch boxes are filled and tucked away into the freezer right after dinner, for easy retrieval in the mornings and supplemented with yogurt, fruit, bars, crackers or cookies.