Monday 2 January 2012

Never Dal

Life is never dull with my slow-cooker because there is always some new challenge to test its proficiency. Lately, I have been cooking a lot of dals with spectacular results.  Dal is far from dull. There are so many varieties, it is a little bid daunting. Moong dal (split yellow lentils), Toor dal (Yellow Pigeon peas), Chana Dal (split peeled chickpeas), Masoor Dal (Red Lentils) and Urad dal (split black lentils) and Mung dal (Mung beans) are just some of a long list. But once you have found your favourite it will become a staple in your diet. 

A dal is simply a dish made from any dried pulse, pea, bean or lentil which has been stripped on its outer hull and split. In fact the word dal means to split. Particularly popular in Southern India where the diet is vegetarian, they are a fantastic source of protein as well as being high in fibre which helps lower cholesterol.  They contain practically no fat and are high in folate and magnesium, Iron and B vitamins.

I have finished my dal with a Chaunk or to use the more recognisable, Punjabi word Tarka, hence the familiar Tarka Dal.  It is very common to finish your curry with a flavoured or tempered oil of some sort and you can add all sorts of spices and flavours.  I use Ghee as a base but you can use oil and add cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, fennel seeds, fresh green chilli, dried red chilli, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves, onion or garlic.  The dal recipe that I give below is so full of flavour that I simply garnished it with just my favourite, fried garlic, which I love.

After the onslaught of meat over Christmas, this is just what I am craving and wonderful way to start a happy and healthy New Year.  

Channa Dal
I have cooked this in the slow-cooker but you can cook it on the stove top just as well.
1 cup yellow split peas (Channa Dal)
1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 large knob of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt 
2 cups water
5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
small bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped

Rinse the dal. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. When the oil is hot add the onion and ginger and lightly fry until golden brown. Add the spices and briefly fry. Add the water and salt and bring to the boil.  Tip into the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.  If you do not have a slow-cooker, cook very slowly on the stove top for a couple of hours.  When meltingly tender, add the chopped coriander.  In a little saucepan put the garlic just covered with vegetable oil.  Heat over a medium heat until the garlic is golden brown.  Remove immediately and spoon straight over the dal.  Do not leave the garlic in the saucepan for long as it will carry on cooking and may burn.


  1. I love your blog and will try out the recpe, I am always looking for nice vegetarian recipes and love your Dahl

  2. I'm going to have to try out making dal in my slow cooker now. I love the look of that crispy fried garlic too.

  3. Looks amazing and Ive been looking for slow cooker recipes, I haven't used mine since turning vegetarian!


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