Kali Masoor dal
(Black Masoor dal with Garlic Chaunk)
Whole Masoor dal is very popular amongst the Delhi Kayastha families (you guessed it, I am a Kayastha - one of the many sections of our caste system); I must add this dal is not so popular with other Indians. The red split version of Masoor dal is the common dal now seen in the Supermarkets and on the pages of most Indian cookery books. Dal in our family was always present for lunch but never at night, but all this has quite rightly changed and it is served with any meal as it is such a lovely dish at any time. Masoor dal is always served with a garlic chaunk (tarka). In
very rarely will any dal be served without some kind of chaunk. It is the chaunk which enhances the flavour of any dal. India
Chaunk is the Hindi word for Tarka and is really a method of garnishing dals in this special way. The ingredients when added to boiling ghee liberate special oils which give the beautiful flavour. It is usually added at the end as I will explain fully in the method.
· 1 cup (200 gms) of Masoor dal
· ½ tsf Turmeric powder
· 1 tsf Salt (to taste)
· ½ Amchur (ground dried mango powder)
· ¼ tsf Chilli powder
· 3 cloves of Garlic chopped
· 3 tbsf Ghee
1. Wash the Masoor dal and put it in a pan which has a lid. (I generally make my dals in a pressure cooker which cuts the cooking time dramatically).
2. Add water, six times the volume if not using the pressure cooker and four times if using the pressure cooker.
3. Add the salt and turmeric and put the pan over medium heat.
4. Bring it to boil then cover the pan and lower the heat to low and let it cook for approximately 1 ¼ hours, but check for that the lentils are cooked. (In pressure cooker it takes only 10 minutes after the pressure rises for the cooker to whistle).
5. Once dal is cooked add chilli powder and amchur (mix it in a 2-3 tbsf of warm water).
6. Keep stirring the dal and don’t be scared to squash some of the lentil seeds to give it that slightly overdone texture and taste!
7. Heat the ghee in a small frying pan.
8. Add the chopped garlic and let it fry till it is dark brown – chaunk is ready. As soon as the dal is ready to be served add the piping hot chaunk to the dal – it will make that ‘chaunk’ sound and that is how I believe this name came about.