I love dal and have been experimenting with a few different recipes lately. This particular one is my favourite so far, and is adapted from a recipe in Madhur Jaffrey's Ultimate Curry Bible. It's a South Indian style, and the finishing touch of adding the curry leaves and mustard seeds in ghee is what sets it apart - it wouldn't be the same without this step!
Fresh curry leaves can be hard to find in Hobart, but Spice World in the Bank Arcade usually have them. They have an amazing, nutty aroma that I can't get enough of. They can be frozen, and this is nearly as good as fresh. I don't think that dried curry leaves are worth using though, as the flavour is just not there.
This recipe is great with rice, or creamy polenta.
90g mung dal (red lentils)
90g toovar dal (split pigeon peas)
pinch asafetida (optional)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 shallot, very finely diced
1 green chilli, finely diced
1 tsp salt
Silverbeet or spinach (optional)
2 tbs ghee (or olive oil)
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
2 tsp dried red chilli flakes
10 fresh or frozen curry leaves
3 tbs coriander leaves, chopped
Wash the dal well, then drain.
Add the dal plus 1 litre of water to a large saucepan and bring to the boil without boiling over.
Skim off any scum that rises.
Add the asafetida, cayenne pepper, turmeric, ginger, garlic, shallots, green chilli and salt.
Stir well then reduce the heat so that it's lightly simmering.
Cover partially with a lid and stir occasionally until the dal is tender (up to an hour), then turn off the heat.
If you include silverbeet, roughly chop it and mix it in after 45 minutes. If using spinach, add it when you turn off the heat.
Add the ghee to a frypan and heat.
Add the mustard seeds and chilli flakes and stir quickly.
Crush the curry leaves in your hand and add to the frypan.
Stir very briefly then quickly tip the contents of the frypan into the dal.
Mix together, then immediately cover with a lid and let it sit for several minutes.
Add the coriander and then stir briefly before serving.