Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Mushur daal (spicy lentils)

My mum would be scandalised by this daal, but given that I can't pull off a 'proper' daal with only the Bengali radhuni seasoning, I cook this spiced-up, curried version of the beloved Bengali staple mushur (masoor) daal. I was brought up to believe it was full of proteins, and must be had by all naughty children who refused their daily portions of freshwater fish :-)

Split de-husked red lentils (in the US, pick up the Goya version at any supermarket).
Tomatoes, sliced thick.
Red onions, sliced.
Turmeric powder, a pinch.
Salt, sugar.
Ghee (or butter. Or, oh all right, refined oil).

How to:
Boil the lentils. Keep boiling till they're pretty mushy. At this point they shouldn't be much water left. If there is, drain it off carefully. Now take a whisker or beater to the mushy daal, and make it mushier still, till it reaches the consistance of a thickish, slightly watery paste. If you're impatient you needn't go that far, but make sure there are no individual hard grains of daal discernable.

In a wok/skillet, heat two tablespoons of ghee. Or butter or oil. After a few seconds drop a slice of onion to see if it sizzles. If it does, turn the flame down and add all the onions. Fry till they change colour and release the sweet, toasted-onion smell.

Now add tomatoes. Turn the flame up and cook them well, disintergrating them with a spatula. The final daal should have no chunks of tomato in it.

When the tomatoes have been well-cooked into an dry onion-and-tomatoe stew, add the lentils and mix them thoroughly with the vegetables. Add a small pinch of turmeric, and then salt and sugar. Taste to see if it needs more of either.

Pour a cup of water and let the flavours cook with each other. It's a good idea to cover the wok/skillet at this stage and lower the flame.

Eat with hot white rice, or, if you have them, freshly made rotis. Mmm!

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