Creamy Tadka Dal with Roti

IMG_2657

I loved the combination of textures and colors from the mix of beans in this creamy dal. The recipe was a “staff favorite” in Food and Wine, contributed by Antara Sinha. It was included an article titled “Good to the Last Sop: Cozy Dinners That Deliver Endless Comfort.” The original recipe includes instructions to make homemade roti to serve with the dal to sop it up. 🙂

We ate this dish with store-bought roti but I included the roti recipe from the original article below. I wish I had made the homemade roti because we tragically did not enjoy the store-bought version. (Homemade is always better!) I served the dal over brown Basmati rice with steamed spinach on the side. Hearty and delicious vegetarian comfort food.

For the Dal:

  • 3/4 cup dried moong dal (split yellow mung beans) (about 5½ ounces) 
  • 3/4 cup dried masoor dal (split red lentils) (about 5 ounces) 
  • 3/4 cup dried chana dal (split bengal gram) or dried toor dal (split pigeon peas) (about 5Âľ ounces) 
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric 
  • 6 to 7 cups water, divided 
  • 1 ½ tablespoons canola oil 
  • 4 green cardamom pods, crushed, shells discarded 
  • 4 whole cloves 
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons cumin seeds  
  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)  
  • 2 medium-size fresh serrano or jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded if desired, and finely chopped (about 2 1/2 tablespoons) 
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped (about 1 cup) 
  • ÂĽ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish 

For the Roti:

  • 2 cups atta (Indian whole-wheat flour) (about 8 5/8 ounces), plus more for dusting 
  • 3/4 to 1 cup water, divided 
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • melted ghee, for brushing 

For the Tadka:

  • 3 tablespoons ghee 
  • 3 small dried chiles (such as Diaspora Co. Whole Sannam Chillies), or more to taste (I used Bird’s Eye)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

To Serve:

  • brown Basmati rice, optional
  • steamed spinach, optional

To Start the Dal:

  1. Stir together moong dal, masoor dal, chana (or toor) dal, salt, turmeric, and 6 cups water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high. (I used a medium enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low; partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until dal is soft and tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Add up to remaining 1 cup water, 1/4 cup at a time, until desired thickness and consistency is reached.

To Make the Roti Dough:

  1. Stir together atta, 3/4 cup water, and salt in a medium bowl. Knead mixture in bowl until all dry flour is incorporated, adding remaining 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed to incorporate flour.
  2. Transfer dough to a clean work surface; knead until stretchy and slightly sticky, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Shape dough into a ball, and return to bowl. Cover with a clean towel; let stand at room temperature until dough is smooth and matte, about 30 minutes.

To Season the Dal:

  1. Heat oil in a medium-size heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium.
  2. Add cardamom, cloves, and cumin; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds.
  3. Add onion and chopped fresh chiles; cook, stirring often, until onion is lightly browned around edges, 5 to 8 minutes.
  4. Add tomato; cook, stirring often, until tomato begins to break down, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Add tomato mixture and cilantro to dal mixture; stir to combine. Season to taste with salt.
  6. Cover and keep warm over low.

To Cook the Roti:

  1. Once roti dough has rested, turn out onto a work surface lightly dusted with atta.
  2. Divide dough evenly into 16 pieces (about 1 ounce each).
  3. Working with 1 dough piece at a time and keeping remaining pieces covered with a towel, shape dough into a ball. Dust ball thoroughly with atta, and flatten slightly. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a circle until uniformly thin and about 6 inches in diameter. Rotate the disk 90 degrees after each roll, flipping and dusting with atta occasionally to make a perfect circle. Repeat with remaining dough pieces.
  4. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high. Place 1 roti round in skillet; cook until bubbles start to form and bottom is speckled with brown spots, 30 to 45 seconds. Flip roti using tongs; cook until it puffs up completely and is evenly cooked on both sides, 30 to 45 seconds. (Small charred spots are delicious and totally OK.) If roti doesn’t completely puff up, pat the top using a clean towel to encourage it to inflate.
  5. Remove roti from skillet, and brush both sides lightly with melted ghee; transfer to a serving plate. Repeat process with remaining roti rounds and ghee.

To Make the Tadka & to Serve:

  1. In a small skillet, heat ghee over medium-high. Add dried chiles and cumin to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until cumin is toasted and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Divide dal mixture among bowls, and drizzle each portion with desired amount of warm tadka. (I served it over brown Basmati rice.)
  3. Sprinkle with additional cilantro, and serve alongside hot roti and steamed spinach, as desired.

Note: Dal can be prepared (without the tadka) 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.

Maushawa: Afghani Bean & Meatball Soup

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This wonderful soup is thick and hearty like a stew. The flavors reminded me of Greek Moussaka or Pastitsio – because of the use of yogurt and cinnamon. It is healthy and FABULOUS!! This recipe was adapted from The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook by Tess Mallos. I replaced some of the water with stock, substituted ground turkey for beef or lamb and long grain basmati rice for short grain rice, increased the tomatoes, decreased the oil, and used canned kidney beans and Greek yogurt. This version is not spicy at all but more chili powder could be added to taste. We ate it with naan on the side. I am adding it to my annual soup rotation next year!

Yield: Serves 10 to 12

For the Base:

  • 15 oz can red kidney beans
  • 1 cup chana dal or yellow split peas
  • 1 cup split mung beans
  • 1 cup white basmati rice or short-grain white rice
  • 7 cups chicken stock
  • 4 tsp coarse salt, plus more to taste

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 1/4 pound ground turkey
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp hot chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

To Finish:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 14.5 oz diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 T chopped fresh dill
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt (I used 2 percent)
  1. Rinse the kidney beans, chana dal and mung beans and place in a soup pot with 7 cups stock and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Rinse the rice and add to the pan with the salt. Simmer for another 30 minutes, or until the ingredients are soft.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the meat with the seasonings and shape into balls the size of hazelnuts. (I used 1 tsp per meatball.)
  4. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high and fry the onion until translucent and lightly brown.
  5. Add the meatballs to the onion and fry, stirring often, until browned. Stir in tomatoes and 1 cup stock. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Add meatball mixture to the bean mixture, another 2 cups water, and the dill. Bring to a boil, then add the yogurt, stirring over low heat until almost boiling.
  7. Adjust the seasoning with salt and chili powder, if desired.
  8. Serve hot with naan or lavash on the side.

One Year Ago:

Chilkewali Mung Dal (Split Green Mung Beans), Mumbai-Style

MBittman Chilkewali Mung Dal

When I knew that we might be near this wonderful Indian grocery, Apna Bazar in Hicksville, New York, I grabbed an article about “New York Dals” written by Mark Bittman for the New York Times and made my ingredient list. I bought fresh curry leaves for the first time, so I made the dish that used them first- Chilkewali Mung Dal.  I served it with sautĂ©ed spinach with garlic and cumin, brown rice, and two types of Indian bread.  I had to substitute a balloon whisk for an Indian mathani to try and achieve the right consistency.  I didn’t know anything about which type of bread to serve, so we tried 2 types– next time I go to Apna Bazar I will try one of the many other types available! This is a wonderful dish- I LOVED IT!  I am looking forward to trying the other dal recipes from the same New York Times article.

  • 1 cup split green mung beans (chilkewali mung dal)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced and seeded hot green chili
  • 3/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes (canned is fine)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower or safflower oil, or other neutral oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons julienned fresh ginger
  • 12 curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Combine the dal, turmeric, garlic, chili, onions, tomatoes, brown sugar, salt and 4 cups water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently, and cook, covered, for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Partly uncover and continue cooking for another 15 minutes, until the dal is tender; turn off the heat. Use an Indian mathani (or balloon whisk) to purée the dal for about 1 minute; the dal should be saucy but not soupy.
  2. To make the tadka, heat the oil in a small saucepan over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and cover the pan; let the seeds pop and sizzle. When the popping begins to subside, add the ginger and cook until lightly browned, about 15 seconds, and add the curry leaves, if you’re using them. Turn off the heat and stir in the cumin.
  3. Pour the tadka (pictured below) into the dal; stir gently to combine. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
YIELD: About 4 servings
MBittman TadkaImage

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