The secret to making a good dal is to make a temper and the secret to a really good dal is to make a really good temper!
Tempering a dal is the act of adding the cooked dal to a pan containing a mixture of fried vegetables and spices and heating it through before serving. This imbues the rich flavours into the dal in a way that can never be achieved though cooking the dal with the spices from the start.
This recipe is really quick and simple to make and can be done with red lentils just as easily as with the moong dal used here. I can personally guarantee that it is exceedingly delicious!
- 250 grams of moong dal / red lentils / any other dal!
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 tomatoes, finely chopped
- 4 large cloves of garlic, pressed
- 1 tsp fenugreek seed
- 1 tsp black onion seed (kalonji)
- 1 tsp cumin seed
- 1/4 tsp asafoetida (hing) powder
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp oil (vegetable or mustard)
- salt to taste
- A handful of coriander leaves (optional) + garnish
- Cook the dal in boiling water until it begins to lose structure and becomes like a porridge! With moong dal this doesn’t take long and it should be ready in the time it takes to make the temper. Set aside.
- Use a few drops of water to form a paste from the asafoetida.
- Add oil, fenugreek, black onion seed, cumin and the asafoetida paste to a frying pan and fry until fragrant.
- Add the onion and fry until it has begun to brown along the edges. Add the tomatoes,and cook them until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and stir vigorously and turn the heat down to low after a minute or so.
- At the last minute, add the coriander leaf (if you’re using it) and the chilli, salt and pepper, then add the dal to the frying pan and heat through, stirring thoroughly.
Garnish with coriander and serve with rice, indian breads (such as home made chilli paratha) or popadoms.