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Dal as Anything

Let's address the elephant in the room first, Dal is not a 'Lentil Soup' or not written as 'Dahl' or 'Dhal', for us Indians it's Dal or Daal. Now since that's aside let's dive in to everything Dal.

Dal as an Indian would say is anything that involves pulses, legumes, lentils. 


Archaeological findings indicate that Dal was around during Indus Valley Civilization  which lasted from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE. Starch granules of lentils have been recovered from the interior surface of storage jars from the Harappan site of Farmana, now part of Haryana. At one point it was only cooked in royal kitchens of and served to royalties of Mughal empire. Aurangzeb, a Mughal emperor preferred 'panchmel' dal over lamb roast. So Lentils and various kinds of Dal preparation have been known to South Asians for a very very long time. 


In modern form, Dal can be simple or elaborate. Simple, the one that's eaten at home regularly, is simple, uses minimal spices, tempered with 2-3 seeds if at all and eaten with roti, plain rice, side of sabzi (veggies), salad and chutney. And then there's an elaborate dal, where lentils are cooked and then tempered with all kinds of spices and ingredients dependent on the region of India e.g. being Dal Makhni, Dal Bukhara etc.

We'll talk about simple dal, cooked with simple spices. That my Daadi (paternal grandmother) and Naani (maternal grandmother), my Maa (mother) used to cook and now my sister's and I cook. 


To make a good simple dal first you need lentils. Red lentils, Mung lentils, or Toor Dal can all be staple lentils at your home to make daily life dal. They cook fast, and are easy to digest.

Before cooking one of the important thing to do to a dal to increase it's bioavailability and reduce causing bloating and gas is to Wash'em well. Yes! You should always wash lentils. 2 - 3 times in water and throw the water out. 

My ratio to cook for 2 people usually would be 1 cup of lentils to 3.5 cups of water. I would add 1 small tsp of turmeric powder, 1 Tsp salt and pinch of asafoetida. And that's it. 

When I cook lentils I sometimes also add a whole tomato (don't even bother chopping) and cook it all together. Once it's cooked, I usually temper (known as Tadka ) my dal with just some ghee and cumin seeds and pour the whole thing on dal. You can finish it off with chopped coriander leaves.


See dal is not some fancy meal, at least not anymore, it's a food for the masses. It's a great source of plant protein if you are one of those who always looks for protein. and wants to cut down eating meat. And in general it just makes you feel light, if cooked properly and eaten proportionately with rice.

The other great thing about making dal is that it tastes even better the next day. Heat it up and have it for brekkie with toasted bread. Add roast veggies and make a proper meal for next dinner. And if you are experimental types mix it with flour and make pancakes or burger patties with boiled potatoes. The world is your oyster when it comes to dal. 

So please give dal a go and I promise you, life will never be 'Dall'. ;)

Supriya xx 



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