Monday 20 July 2020

Bengali style chana daal

I really never loved this daal when I was growing up. It's thick and sweetish, and the grains are still very slightly firm to the bite and separate, not completely liquid, like more well-known daals.  This is often eaten with luchi or puri - the small round deep-fried discs of featherlight bread often reserved for less day to day meals in Bengal.  Luchis are the plain white breads, that taste both soft and crispy, and taste like flaky, fatty, slightly chewy morsels of joy.  Puris are no less delightful, albeit made with the slightly more healthy partly wholemeal chapatti flour.  The taste is slightly less guilt-inducing, but just as delicious.  

I am not practiced at making these, so I am not making any attempts to blog recipes for the breads, but there are many recipes and videos for them out there.  So here is the chana dal recipe my mother taught me.  The main reason I used to eat this was for the sneaky nuggets of juicy fried coconut that hide in amongst the lentils, now I have learned to love the dish for itself.

Chana daal 

These are split polished chickpeas, NOT split yellow peas, but I have been told those work very well as a substitute if you can't find chana dal.  I have seen it in most supermarkets, however, so if you can get it, do try it with the correct thing.

First, boil 2 and a half cups of water in the pressure cooker.  Then add one cup of chana dal, half a teaspoon of turmeric, a teaspoon each of coriander, cumin, garam masala and salt and also a pinch of sugar.  Stir well and cover and bring to pressure.  Cook for 9 minutes.

While this is cooking, gently fry some finely chopped fresh coconut until it is lightly toasted.  Set aside.

When the dal is finished, and the pressure has released, open the lid, mix the dal well and keep it simmering.  It should be thick enough to eat with torn up flatbreads, it should not be so thin that it can mix with rice.

Now heat some ghee and fry a couple of bay leaves, a stick of cassia bark, 2 cardamom pods and a clove.  Pour this over the dal.  Finally, add the fried diced coconut.  

Serve with luchi and enjoy.  

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