The first time I attempted the Dal Fry, my overeager self didn’t have all of the spices so I improvised. (I’m good at that!) And it still came out amazing. But after Randy took me to see The Hundred Foot Journey (<–go see this movie asap!!)3 weeks ago, I decided to take this thing to a whole ‘notha level. (Side note: my hubby knows what I like Or does he know me so well that he predicted I would go ham and buy up all the spices I needed to keep the Indian food coming?? Hmm. Whatever!) Heeheee. I went to the Little India Grocery in East Boca and did just that. Went ham! I even bought a pressure cooker which I swoon over whenever I use it. If you’re really serious about cooking Indian food you’re gonna need one of those.
The Following Spices and Stuff:
- Ghee (Indian type of clarified butter)
- Kasoori methi
- chora and moong dal (yellow and green lentils)
- basmati rice (aromatic rice)
- garam masala
- kalonji seeds (onion seeds)
- cumin seeds
- black mustard seeds
- ginger paste
- garlic paste
- pressure cooker
- tandoori masala (a wonderful mix of spices)
- coriander seeds
- chili powder
And I’m sure there’s a lot more to be added but this is what I started with. When making the Dal Fry you can use any type of lentil, and I’ve even used split peas so it’s pretty versatile. To add an extra layer of flavor I added 16 oz of pumpkin. You can use canned pumpkin or cut up your pumpkin in chunks and roast in the oven until tender and mash.
Once the Spices, Aromatics and Tomatoes are Cooked You Add the Pumpkin and Lentils or Dal
After I pressure cooked the lentils for 15 minutes I warmed up some ghee and fried the cumin and black mustard seeds. Then I sautéed the onion, added the garlic/ginger paste and tomatoes. Once these are cooked then you add the Dal (lentils) and pumpkin with more mother loving spices- turmeric, coriander, asafoetida! It just keeps getting better and better!
The Dal Has this Wonderful Creamy, But Thick Consistency
The fantastic odors that permeate your house can only be eclipsed by the actual taste of these rich, silky, complex flavored lentils. Split pea soup was my favorite but this Dal Fry is now the top runner. This is the like the Michael Jackson of split pea soups- if you will. lol.. it has this distinctive fried, smoky taste and all the complex layers of spices.
I made it with Chicken Tikka Masala and homemade naan bread. Might as well go all the way. Cooking Indian food is quite a commitment and I really respect the love, patience and attention given to each recipe. If you can cook Indian food – you can cook! So on with it but be forewarned you will make a huge mess of your kitchen. I used over 22 ingredients in my Chicken Tikka Masala alone! And if you choose to boil your Dal in a saucepan be careful because it will boil over if there’s too much water in the pot. The first time I made the Dal in a regular 6-quart stock pot it took almost 4 hours for them to get to the right consistency (I didn’t soak them overnight) and it boiled over so bad that it spilled inside the vents of my oven door and I had to get Randy to take the whole door apart so I could clean 3 layers of glass! No bueno. Go the pressure cooker route, please, for me and enjoy some of the most aromatic, palette-pleasing food you can have. This recipe takes patience and time- you can’t rush it. You have to make sure the seeds have fried and the onions are cooked and make sure the tomatoes are tender. This is the perfect Sunday afternoon/evening dish. I can just hear your tastebuds begging me for this.