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Old 11-08-2011, 02:32 AM   #1
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Trying to Cook Indian Daal Homestyle...

Hi everybody!

So I'm a second year college student trying to recreate my mom's dal masoor and I'm not very pleased with my work! :( Here's the recipe my mom gave me...

-1 cup yellow dal
-3 cup water
-2 Teaspoon salt
-1/2 tablespoon mircha/ red chili powder I believe
-1 tbspoon vegetable oil
-1/2 teaspoon cumen seed
-1/2 tablespoon haldi

1) First wash dal and put water on boil.
2) When it's boiling, put clean dal in and let cook for 20 minutes. Put haldi, mircha, and salt in.
3) At 20 minutes, put oil and cumen seed in small sauce pan and begin to cook until simmering. Toss the oil and cumen in the dal and continue to boil until dal is fully cooked.

So I feel like my dal always turns out too salty and it's really dry. Like there's no liquid (so it's hard to eat with rice )...can anybody with experience offer some tips? My mom laughs at me whenever I ask for help! :/

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Old 11-08-2011, 08:05 AM   #2
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Simple. If it's too dry, just add more water. If it's too salty, add less salt.

I think your experience with your mother's recipe happens to everyone. When I first moved out of the house (many years ago), my mom gave me a few recipes. I found that most of her recipes also had way too much salt, or too much of this, or too little of that. They didn't taste like the way she cooked them at all. In fact, I thought she had given me the wrong recipes. When I asked her about it, she told me that, yes, they were her recipes but, no, she hadn't followed them in years. Instead, she used them as guidelines and that I should use my own taste buds to decide what they did or didn't need.

By the way, if you might also ask your mom if she has her own garam masala recipe. A lot of Indian cooks add a pinch or two of garam masala at the end. That might go a long way toward getting some of your mom's flavors into your own recipes.
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Old 11-08-2011, 09:43 AM   #3
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I didn't think lentils took a lot of time to cook. Maybe the water would be enough if you cooked it less (so it didn't boil off). That would also serve to not concentrate the salt.
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Old 11-08-2011, 02:04 PM   #4
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Do you guys think the dal would turn out better if I cooked on low boil for more than 20 min? How long does it it usually take for you to cook the lentils? (btw my lentils are always a little hard compared to my mom's)
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Old 11-08-2011, 02:18 PM   #5
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Depends on the type of lentil.

When you say Masoor Dal, I assume you mean the pink/orange ones that turn yellow once they cook. These are usually what I use. They don't take long at all, about 15 minutes and they are soft.

If you are using Toor Dal (these are actually a type of pea, and are yellow before cooking), then the cooking time is longer. About 20-25 minutes for those.

The brown or green ones can take up to 30-35 minutes.
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Old 11-08-2011, 03:05 PM   #6
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What is haldi?
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Old 11-08-2011, 03:14 PM   #7
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Lyndalou: "haldi" is tumeric powder in hindi :)
Steve: I'm using toor dal I believe. My mom usually cooks it in a steel pot with a steel lid covering it. I cook it in a smaller nonstick pot with a glass lid to cover it. I'm worried that it comes out dry because I let it cook too long with the lid on (so it's boiling the entire time)...I really want a soupy consistency, but everytime I take it off boil and test the lentils to see if they're cooked, they're still pretty hard. What do you suggest I do?
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Old 11-08-2011, 03:57 PM   #8
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Three things you can try:
  1. Longer cooking time. If you like it with more of a soup consistency, cooking it longer will soften it more. You may want to even overcook it just a little.
  2. Instead of adding salt to the cooking water, try salting it AFTER it is cooked. Salt makes all legumes (beans, peas, lentils) take much longer to cook.
  3. Once it's cooked, give it a real good stirring. This will give it a creamier texture.
I would also suggest not boiling it so hard. Turn the heat down to a simmer or soft boil. A hard, rapid boil will evaporate the liquid - even with the lid on (the steam still escapes). This is probably what is causing it to come out dry.
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Old 11-08-2011, 04:09 PM   #9
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Here is how I make mine. It comes out great. You do need proper spices to make any dal and yes it's homestyle all the way:

Masoor dal - Red or Black whatever you like
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/4 stick of ginger finely chopped
1 green chili finely chopped
whole cumin seeds
Bunch of curry leaves

Masala:
Chili Powder
Haldi Powder
Cumin and Corrainder Powder
pinch of garam masala
salt to taste
squeeze of lime or lemon to finish

Small Onion Finely Chopped
One Tomato finely chopped

Oil 2 tbsp and then another 2 tbsp for the tadka/baghaar

Wash the dal (about 1 cup), add 3 cups of water to it and set it on the side.

In a pan add oil and then once hot add onions to it and saute it until they are tender. Add the ground spices (chili, haldi, garam masala, salt) and saute them for a bit until the spices are toasted. Next add the tomato and the dal along with the water. Let this cook until dal is completely tender. If it dries out, add more water. Dal should be tender and not too liquidy.

Now put some more oil in a seperate pan. Once it's hot add the cumin seeds, curry leaves, garlic and ginger and saute it for a minute. Pour it into the dal. Let it all simmer on low for another 15 minutes or so.

Garnish with corrainder (chopped) and squeeze lime and enjoy.

This is my homestyle recipe, hope you enjoy it as much as my kids do. Also you can use any type of dal and still use this recipe. You can subsitute green onions with regular onions to add yet another dimension of flavor.

Rice, dal, papad and achaar and yes that's my idea of comfort food.
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Old 11-08-2011, 04:15 PM   #10
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Sounds like a good recipe. I like tomato and ginger in mine also.
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