“Do you know what I had for dinner? Dal! Just dal & rice!” my neighbour said, looking at me in amused horror probably hoping this fellow foodie would empathise. I couldn’t. Dal is one of my favourite foods. So much so, that the parents start worrying about my health when I say no to a meal that has dal on the menu. And every time the extended family has a potluck, the person in charge of dal makes sure a takeaway bowl filled to the brim with this lentil goodness is hidden away for… yours truly.
And why not!? All these mothers are experts when it comes to turning the humble dal into a dish that can be added to the menu of a Michelin-star restaurant! Which is why I knew I had a winner on hand when Maa said: “We can make this for the next potluck” after doing a taste test. She named it the Panch Ratni Dal – a rather fancy name for a huge pot of dal that is, simply put, five types of lentils slow cooked to a mush and flavoured with a beautiful tadka. Its an overused name, I know, but I struggled to name this dal so pardon me.
The recipe for this Panch Ratni Dal is inspired by one I read in one of the several books about cooking I now own. I decided to make this dal because it comprises the goodness of five dals – each with a distinct flavour – that are allowed to cook slowly together, the flavours intertwining before they are bound by tadka. The fragrance of tadka in a rich dal is a stress buster… and if you are smiling and nodding in agreement, I know we are in a happy relationship and are dal mates for life.
The five dals you’ll need for this recipe are
• Chana dal (split chickpeas, split Bengal gram, split brown chickpeas)
• Masoor dal (red/orange/pink lentils, dehusked brown lentils)
• Mung dal (mung beans, green gram, hare mung)
• Toor dal (split pigeon peas)
• Urad dal (split black gram lentils)
Soaking the dals for 20-30 minutes is a good idea because it cuts down the cooking time. I won’t recommend pressure cooking these dals but if you feel the need to make life easier, by all means!
Don’t forget to tell me how it works out – you can find me on Instagram at @from.the.corner.table and on Facebook at From The Corner Table. If saving recipes on Pinterest is your thing, find me at Rapti B | From The Corner Table. Now let’s get cooking!
Five types of dal (lentils) slow cooked and tempered with whole spices
- 1/4 th cup Chana dal | Split chickpeas
- 1/4 th cup Masoor dal | Red lentils
- 1/4 th cup Mung dal | Green mung beans
- 1/4 th cup Toor dal | Split pigeon peas
- 1/4 th cup Urad dal | Split black gram lentils
- 3 cups Water
- 2 medium Onions (chopped)
- 3-4 cloves Garlic (chopped)
- 1 inch Ginger (grated)
- 3 tablespoon Ghee
- Salt (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon Turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon Red chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon Garam masala powder
- 1 teaspoon Coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon Cumin seeds
- Corainder (to garnish)
- 1 tablespoon Yoghurt (to garnish)
Wash dals and soak for 20-30 minutes.
In a thick-bottomed pan, heat the water. Add the soaked dals and cook on low flame. Keep skimming the surface to remove the froth.
Once the froth is removed, add the chopped onion, 1 teaspoon each of salt, turmeric, red chilli powder, garam masala powder and mix.
Stir occasionally from the bottom and scrape the sides to make sure the dal does not stick to the pan’s surface.
Cook till the dal is soft and has broken. Adjust the salt.
In a small pan or kadhai, heat ghee. Add the dried red chilli, coriander seeds, cumin and let them splutter.
Add the garlic and ginger. Sauté a few seconds to release the aroma.
Pour into the cooked dal; cover immediately and leave for a minute.
Uncover and stir well, from the bottom and the sides. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the flame.
Garnish with beaten yogurt, a dash of lime juice or some chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or Indian breads.