The World of Dals and Lentils - Versatile
Dal is what chicken soup is in the west - comforting food.
Dals or lentils, peas and beans are cooked practically daily in almost every Indian home, vegetarian or not. Each region has its own dal favorites and cooking methods. Some are cooked with garlic and ginger, in addition to the staple spices of turmeric, cumin and coriander. Dals can range from spicy-sweet to scorching hot, soup like or like creamed thick soup or dry like a pilaf.
Lentils form an important part of any Indian meal and you can make it an important part of your diet. It is good for the environment too as it has a small carbon footprint unlike other proteins. They are a tasty way to get your protein for the day. India has a variety of lentils cooked different spices in different ways in different parts of India and this means you can enjoy a different dal everyday!
Dal or Lentils is the staple food in every Indian home. Both the rich and the common person who lives on the street enjoy it. It is what chicken is to the west – it is India’s comfort food and also It’s usually the starter of every meal eaten with hot steaming rice or with freshly made chapati (leavened bread) straight off the girdle. Dal is every man’s meal and one of the healthy dishes in an otherwise red hot-chilly pepper Indian diet. The desert cuisines of Indians use an immense variety of pulses and preserves to substitute for the relative lack of fresh vegetables. It is also dried with spices to produce spice capsules to add to foods. The world of dal in India is truly one of India's culinary gem.
How to cook Lentils (dal, dhal, grams, peas)
Most dals do not need soaking. They may be boiled with turmeric and ginger and then seasoned with sautéed onion and tomatoes. Roasted or oil sizzled cumin seeds adds an extra dimension to dals and aids in digestion of dals.
Tempering Dal or Spicing Dals
The tempering, or seasoning, is what makes the dal come alive. Turmeric gives dal the lovely golden hue. Dal is fat free and nature has designed it to absorb various combinations of seasonings and spices. There are innumerable variations of the simple seasoning and one can create their own individual taste. The standard ingredients include mustard seeds, jeers, red chilies or chili powder, hing/asafetida, onions, green chilies, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, garam masala, curry leaves. The fat of choice is ghee in the dal. Oil brings in a acidic after taste but if one is a vegan we suggest sunflower oil. seasonings are enhances in the ghee medium pushing their curative properties higher. Dals are commonly garnished with fresh chopped coriander and served hot.
Dal Common Vegetable Combinations
~ Dal + greens, ~ Dal + pumpkins, squash, ~ Dal + Carrots
Dal Common Preparation Methods
~ Dry dal, ~ Sprouted dal, ~ Dal Soups
Pressure Cooking Lentils is the best way to cook lentils.
If you are going to cook lentils often it would be a good idea to invest in a pressure cooker. We have stainless steel pressure cookers in our store. We carry 2 small sizes for easy everday healthy cooking.