Mondays are for daal. The kind of daal that is easy to make and equally good with roti or rice. The kind of daal that you can even give the greatest compliment of all to – eating it with a spoon. For me that is most of the daals my mother makes including this one. When I make this moong ki daal it tastes and feels like home. If I close my eyes for a second I can almost hear the lazy hum of the fan, sense the inescapable humidity, and feel the almost flaky texture of homemade rotis as I tear a piece off to scoop up some of my moong daal.
I was thinking the other day about how surprising I find it when readers reach out to me and ask how to make daal, but as I type this now I get it. Daal is at the core of Pakistani home cooking and nothing is better, healthier or more satisfying. The ‘bazaari’ (store bought) daals can be delicious, but don’t hold a candle to the simple goodness of homemade ones.
So what’s the trick you ask, what makes one daal so ho hum and others so delicious. Seasoning. It is that simple, when you don’t have enough salt in a curry it’ll be disappointing and that’s when there are lots of other elements at play. Daal is simple and needs it’s few ingredients to show up. Start with my recommended amount and taste before serving. Adjust bit by bit till it’s eat with a spoon ready.
This is Moong ki Daal/ Yellow Lentils. Where my family is from this kind of daal is made with a tempering of onions alone. Since I have inherited my mothers preference for taste over tradition I like to add garlic and curry leaves to it. Continuing in my irreverent vein I also like to mix masoor (red lentils) with moong to improve the flavor of the daal, but if you like moong then feel free to use a full cup!
- 3/4 cup moong ki daal (yellow lentils)
- 1/4 cup masoor ki daal (red lentils)
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/3 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp salt (may need more)
- 1 onion - dice half and slice half
- handful of chopped cilantro
- a few chopped green chillies
- a squeeze of lemon juice
- 3 tbsp oil
- the sliced half an onion from above
- 3 cloves garlic sliced
- a sprig of curry leaves
- 3-4 dried red chillies
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- Wash and soak the lentils for an hour
- Combine the lentils with the chilli powder, salt, turmeric, onion and 2 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil.
- Simmer till completely tender - this can take 40 minutes or more depending on your moong daal.
- You can use an immersion blender to puree the daal or leave as is. Add water to make the daal more thin or crank up the heat to thicken it depending on how you like to eat it.
- Turn the stove off and add the chopped cilantro, green chillies and a squeeze of lemon juice. Give it a good stir.
- Adjust seasoning.
- Heat the oil in a small frying pan and add the sliced onion, garlic, curry leaves, dried red chillies and cumin seeds.
- When the onions have turned a beautiful brown then pour the baghaar/tadka/tempering over the boiled lentils and cover.
- Sneak a taste.
- Serve with rice or roti.
- You can also use a full cup of moong daal here and omit the garlic if you want to.