Few days back as I was cooking dinner, my hubby's colleague who stays in the same housing complex as we called up and invited us for an impromptu potluck dinner. I was cooking a vegetable curry when his call came and I told him to give me 40 minutes to prepare something appropriate for the occasion and there we went getting ready for a sumptuous potluck dinner. I love such unplanned pleasures where everyone contributes a food which is shared by all in the group. It kind of also tests your presence of mind in choosing a dish that would take less time for preparation yet would turn out tasty. I chose to cook egg devil curry which is a staple item in my parents' home and which I cook quite often for the guests and without fail, it always earns me brownie points.
On the dinner table, among a host of different cuisines, there was a dal that involved minimal effort in making yet stood out in taste. The dal was prepared by the wife of my hubby's colleague who is a marathi. The base dal used was toor. Since in Bengali cuisines, usually masoor and mung lentils predominate, the use of toor dal is almost unheard of in the eastern part of India esp West Bengal. It's after we shifted to Bangalore that I tried to use toor dal in preparing sambar and rasam which by the way are my favourite. But toor dal cooked in a marathi way was new to me altogether and I wasted no time in noting down the recipe from her. The very next day I gave it a try and needless to say, the turnout was brilliant, exactly same in taste as when cooked by her. Here goes the recipe for you:
Ingredients: Cooking time: 40-45 minutes
ü 250 gm of toor daal or split pigeon peas
ü 3-4 kokums
ü 20 gm of jaggery (Remember you are not cooking a sweet dish)
ü Salt to taste
ü 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
ü 1 tsp cumin powder
ü 1 tsp turmeric powder
ü 1 tsp red chilli powder
ü 2 tbsp of butter (optional)
ü White oil for cooking
ü Coriander leaves (for garnishing)
1) Wash the dal carefully under running water and then cook it in microwave or pressure cooker, adding 2 cups of water. Mix in turmeric powder, red chilli powder and butter with the dal before closing the lid of the pressure cooker or switch on the button of the microwave. If using pressure cooker, give it one or two whistle and if using microwave, cook till the dal is tender and you can mash it using a spoon. (I took about 30 minutes to cook the dal in microwave)
2) Now heat oil in a wok. When oil turns hot, toss in cumin seeds and let them crackle. Add kokums and cumin powder. Stir around and pour the dal in. Add water as per your need for the consistency. If you want a dal of thick consistency, add less water and if you prefer thin consistency, add more water.
3) Let the dal come to a boil. Add salt and jaggery. Mix in and when the jaggery melts into the dal lending a sweet flavor to the dish, turn the heat off.
4) At last, garnish the dal with coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice.