I come from a long line of sentimental folk. Whenever my mother made ghar ki (homestyle) Maash ki Daal she would always tell me that this particular daal with it’s simple flavours was my grandfathers favourite. My Dada (paternal grandfather) died when I was a few months old so I don’t have any memories of him.
I wish I did.
What I do have are the stories of others, stories that make me think that he was a man much like my father. He would stop the rickshaw away from the house when he was out because he didn’t want it’s noise to wake my sleeping brother. He spoiled my brothers rotten, another trait my father has inherited (one word: Claire’s). He was an avid reader, a writer and a professor. His favourite color was light blue. I know this because if I wear that color my aunt will break into tears because it reminds her of her father. When my fastidious mother reorganized his books, putting away the ‘ugly’ ones no matter how useful he took great pride in showing off the color coordinated shelves to strangers. I know all that and that he liked a simple ghar ki Maash ki Daal.
Now when I make it, I who never met him, feel instantly connected. My father likes it too, without the slivers of julienned ginger just like his father did. My addition of ginger is a concession to my father in law, another doting grandfather who adores maash ki daal. His requisites are that it have tons of slim slices of ginger and a healthy amount of green chillies. One day I will make this daal and tell my daughter that this daal was one of my Dada and her Dadas favourites.
I recently read a piece complaining about how food bloggers tell too many personal stories instead of sharing the actual history of the food. Here is the truth: I can only share what I know. For me food is part of who I am. It is the bhindi that makes me think of my once feisty nani, it is the tikiyaan I make every Rajab, the Pulao that defines my cooking as a mother and the brownies that I can make in my sleep. While my historical knowledge of all these things is slim what I can share is what they mean to me along with tips and tricks that I incorporate. However, I am a practical person and have recently started including a Jump to Recipe link at the very beginning of my blog posts 🙂
Here is a fun fact that I can share here. Most people think of maash ki daal as the yellow colored variety that you get in dhabas or roadside cafes. This Ghar ki Maash ki Daal (or home style maash ki daal) is one of those recipes that doesn’t wind up on restaurant menus. The simple ingredients mean that you must, absolutely must, season it correctly. Maash ki Daal itself also has a natural saltiness so I prefer to tweak the seasoning right at the end before adding the baghaar/tadka. Those of you who have made it before will note that I don’t adopt the traditional method of cooking the daal with just the right amount of water because that perfect amount seems to vary by brand of lentils. Instead I do as my mother does and drain the excess water. Easy peasy.
- 1 cup Maash ki daal (soaked for a few hours, preferably overnight)
- 1/2 tsp ginger paste
- 4-5 diced green chillies
- 1 inch ginger piece, julienned
- 1/2 thinly sliced onion
- 3-4 whole dried red chillies
- neutral cooking oil
Rinse your soaked daal and put it to boil with a generous amount of water, the ginger paste and a spoon full of salt
Once the daal is cooked, 20-30 minutes, drain the excess water and return the daal to the pot
Finely mince however many green chillies you feel comfortable using and add those along with the julienned ginger (if using) into the pot
Taste for salt, adjust seasoning.
Heat a generous lug of oil in a small frying pan and add the onions and whole red chillies
When the onions turns a beautiful caramelly brown then pour the baghaar/tadka over the maash ki daal. Eat with roti.
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