Masala fried Daal (Gram Lentils)
Now we know I advocate pre-cooking lentils that take a while to cook before hand and freezing them. Primarily because when its a weeknight and you want to cook something in a hurry you haven’t got time to bring out the big guns (pressure cooker) and work quicker.
This is one of my favourite lentil recipes that packs a full punch of awesome flavour. I have used pre-cooked and frozen gram lentils here. If you wish to substitute them with non-pre cooked lentils you need to factor in cooking and pre-soaking time. For convience I do the whole cook once and freeze business.
Gram lentils are basically black chick peas that have had the outer shell removed, and the inner ‘pea’ has been split to create this rich, earthy lentil. I love chickpeas and love gram flour (basan) too. After all who doesn’t like a crispy, onion and spinach Pakora right?
Masala fried daal is one of those daals you find on restaurant menus around the world and find no two (in my opinion) taste the same. Some cooks use more hotness, some use more ginger. Some opt for sourness, some add shredded mint. It really is a recipe with room for personalisation to cater for your own needs.
I do serve my daal with plain boiled rice or naans. You can select what works for you.
To serve four you will need:
225 grams pre-cooked gram lentils (or raw lentils, washed and soaked in BOILING water for 1 hour prior to cooking).
1 heaped TBSP garlic paste (or 4 cloves of fresh garlic; crushed)
4 TBSP pre-fried onions soaked in water and drained (or 1 medium onion; peeled and finely sliced)
3 TBSP oil
150 ML of passata (or half a tin of tomatoes; chopped)
750 ML (0.75 litre) water
1 small piece of ginger-sliced (you could use half a TSP of ginger powder if you wish. I generally fish out the ginger before serving)
4 TBSP fresh coriander (including stalks) finely chopped
Cooking salt-to your taste
1 heap TSP turmeric
1 heap TSP chili powder
4 green chilies (prickled all over with a fork)
Optional extras to serve:
Fresh onions (sliced)
Fresh sliced green chili
Fresh coriander leaves
Yogurt-for children in particular is the daal is on the spicier side.
Please note: the measurements given are in line with what I like. Please feel free to adjust according to your own needs. I avoid telling people how much salt to add as it really is down to your own daily consumption and needs.
1) Pre-heat the oil in a large pan on a medium heat. Add the onions and fry for 30 seconds. If the onions stick stir and add a little water if needed (I TBSP at a time). If you are using fresh onions fry until lightly golden.
2) Add the garlic and ginger. Fry for 1 minutes stirring well.
3) Now add the salt, turmeric and chili powder. Stir well. Fry for around 1 minute to cook the spices through. Add a TBSP of water is the mixture sticks.
4) Add the green chilies and stir in. Fry for 1 minute.
5) Add the passata. Stir well for around 5 minutes. This step creates the masala for the daal.
6) Add the lentils and coriander and stir to cover the lentils in the sauce. It will look dry but don’t worry. Now add the water and bring to the boil.
7) Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender. Now if you used pre-cooked lentils it takes around 25 minutes for this to happen. But it can take longer or less time depending on your lentils and how much you cooked them in the first place.
If you are using non-pre cooked lentils I find it takes over 2 hours to become tender and I don’t have the patience for this! What you can do is if you have a Slow Cooker you could transfer the daal at this point to the cooker and let it simmer away. I’ve done this a few times and find it works well. But ask me to keep an eye on lentils for hours on a stove and I will literally cry.
Remove the ginger pieces (if you used slices).
8) Garnish as you wish or serve as is. You Masala Daal is ready to eat.