Change your life in 30 minutes
I’ve been raving about home-cooked Indian daals ever since I started learning how to make them 3 years ago. Some of them are so addictively good that you’ll think they must be bad for you. But the miraculous thing is – they’re extremely good for you. The pulses are rich in protein, fiber and essential minerals, and low in carbs. The carbs they do contain are “slow-burning” carbs, so they won’t give you those blood sugar spikes / crashes that bread and pasta will. They’ll actually moderate your blood sugar level, control your appetite and help you lose weight. And all this without meat! Too good to be true? Try it and see for yourself in less than 30 minutes.
Yellow Delight: The Best Daal Tadka Recipe Ev-er
After my Indian housewife friends got me hooked on daal, I began searching the internet regularly for killer daal recipes. My first serious find was a recipe for Yellow Daal Tadka that had been posted in a forum by another Indian housewife. This is a home-cooked version of the classic “Daal Tadka” you’d find in many Indian restaurants, and the recipe for one of our most popular Bean Bros. products – Yellow Delight. I love the combination of toasted cumin, caramelized garlic /onion and fresh lemon. If you’re new to cooking daal, this is a good one to start with – it’s delicious, fast and relatively simple (for Indian food).
“Tadka” refers to “tempering” which is the technique of frying down your flavour essence (onion, garlic, spices) separately and adding this oily flavour-packed substance to the cooked daal just before serving. That means we’ll be cooking the lentils in one pot while preparing the tempering in another. If you’d like to serve the daal with basmati rice, you’ll need a third pot.
Here’s what you’ll need to feed 3-4 hungry adults in just 30 minutes:
3 x 3-liter pots, or 2 pots + 1 small frying pan
For boiling the daal:
- 1 cup (200g) yellow lentils (toor daal is also ok)
- 1 tomato diced (125g)
- 3 ½ cups water (about 800ml) for cooking the daal
- ½ tsp amchur (dried green mango powder, available at most Indian / Asian grocers)
- ¼ tsp turmeric (Kurkuma)
For the tempering:
- 2 tbsp oil (raps or sunflower)
- 1 tsp (2.8g) whole cumin seeds
- ½ tsp (2.2g) brown mustard seeds
- Pinch of hing (a.k.a. asafoetida, also available at the India grocer)
- ½ cup (70g) diced onion
- 1 ½ cloves (6g) garlic coarsely chopped
- 3 tiny dried red chilis, chopped finely (These are usually between 1-2 cm long. Leave them out if you don’t want the heat)
For the finishing
- 1 ½ tbsp. (22ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp (8.6g) salt (or to taste)
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
For the rice:
- 2 cups (366g) basmati rice
- 3 cups (710ml) cooking water
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp oil (raps, sunflower)
I like recipes that are precise. Precision is everything, especially when you are scaling recipes. The weight of a clove of garlic can vary massively. Was that a rounded teaspoon, a heaping teaspoon or a level teaspoon? You know what I mean… That’s why I’ve stated ingredients in grams and millilitres where possible. Get a drug scale, be precise and your daal will be turn out great.
Now let’s cook:
- Put the rice into one pot and fill with cold water while stirring the rice around with your fingers. When the pot is nearly full, pour out most of the water (stop when you start losing grains of rice!). Repeat 3-4 times until the water is clean. This will remove the excess starch and give you fluffier rice. Next drain the rice in a colander or sieve, disposing of any excess rinsing water. Pour the rice back into the pot and add the cooking water, oil and salt. Set the pot on the stove. If you have more time, let the rice soak for 30 minutes before starting to cook… you’ll get a better result. But if want to eat in half an hour, start cooking the rice straight away. Set the burner to high, leaving the pot uncovered.
- Put the lentils into another pot. Rinse the lentils once or twice as we did the rice, drain off any excess rinse water and add the cooking water, diced tomato, turmeric and amchur. Give it a good stir. Place the pot on the stove with the lid slightly ajar and set the burner to medium high heat.
- Keep an eye on your rice. When it comes to a boil, you’ll need to turn down the burner to medium-low heat, continue boiling lightly until all the liquid disappears. Then turn off the burner and cover to pot with a clean dishtowel so that the steam is kept in but not pressurized (as a lid would do).
- In the meantime, chop your garlic, onion and chilis and measure out your cumin seeds, mustard seeds and hing. Heat the oil in a saucepan or skillet on medium high heat. When your oil is hot enough (but not smoking), drop in a few cumin seeds. If the oil is hot enough they will start to sputter and you can then throw in the rest of the cumin seeds. I usually wait 10-15 seconds before adding the mustard seeds and hing. Give it a quick stir. After another 20-30 seconds your cumin seeds will be golden brown and giving off a lovely aroma, and your mustard seeds will be popping. At this point, toss in the onion. Stir fry the onion for 5 minutes and then add the garlic and chili. Turn the heat down to medium and fry for another 10 minutes until the onion-garlic-seed mixture is caramelized to a crispy gold brown.
- Keep an eye on your lentils. When the pot starts to boil you’ll want to turn the heat down to medium. The turmeric will foam up on the surface of the daal and there is a risk of this boiling over. When you see this happening, remove the lid entirely, stir the daal and reduce the heat. The daal needs to keep boiling away lightly for another 20 minutes until the lentils are tender. You may want to add a bit of water if the daal gets too thick.
- Your lentils and tempering should cross the finish line at roughly the same time. But if your tempering gets brown and crispy before your daal is tender, just remove the tempering from the burner and set it aside until the daal is done. When both are ready, combine the daal and the tempering and give it a few good stirs. Keep the pot simmering on low heat and stir in the salt, lemon juice and cilantro. Congratulations – you’ve just made your first killer daal!
- By now your rice should be ready. Fluff it once gently with fork, being careful not to break the grains. Spoon a heap of the steaming basmati onto a plate and cover half of the rice heap with a large ladle of daal. A mixed salad with a light vinaigrette goes wonderfully with this classic dish.
After you’ve had your fill of this beautiful food (go ahead and have that second helping!), take a moment to notice how you feel. If you’re like me, your insides will feel clean as a whistle and you’ll experience an afterglow of smooth burning energy. The more you eat this stuff, the better you’ll feel. That’s a Bean Bros. guaranty.
Now be honest: did you miss the meat?
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