This recipe, from Madhur Jaffrey’s A Taste of India, is part of SAVEUR’s November 2017 cookbook club. Though we’ve tested this recipe in the SAVEUR test kitchen, we present it in its original, unedited form from the book. Says Jaffrey:
This earthy dish has a delightful flavour which comes from roasting the grains of dal before cooking them in water. In Bengal, it is generally served with rice and a fried vegetable — such as Delicious Fried Morsels — as a first or second course. You may serve is as part of any Indian meal.
- 1 cup skinned moong dal
- 1⁄2 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1 bay leaf
- 3⁄4 lb. spinach, washed and cut into 1/2 in wide shreds
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1⁄2 tsp. red chili powder
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1⁄2 tsp. cumin seeds
- 2 fresh, hot red or green chillies, cut into 1 in. pieces
- Pick over the dal. Put it on a clean tea towel. Rub it gently to remove as much surface dust as possible. Heat a cast-iron frying pan over a medium-low flame. Allow it to get hot and then put the dal in it. Stir and roast until many of the grainsturn golden-red. (The colour will not be uniform, but that is all right.) Put the roasted dal in a bowl and wash it in several changes of water. Drain.
- Put the dal in a heavy-based pan. Add the turmeric, bay leaf and 1⁄4 cups of water. Stir and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low, cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and cook gently for about 1 hour until the grains are quite tender.
- Add the spinach, salt, red chilli powder and 2⁄3 cup of water. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice during this cooking period.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a small pan or frying pan. When hot, put in the cumin seeds. A few seconds later, when the seeds start to pop and sizzle, put in the red or green chillies. Stir once and then pour the contents of the small pan or frying pan over the cooked dal. Cover immediately.
- Note: The whole chillies should only be eaten by those who know what they are doing.