November 3, 2008

Everyday Yellow Dal

I've always loved going out for indian food but for some reason I never thought about making it at home. Probably because a lot of the time international cooking calls for really specialized ingredients that are either difficult to find, expensive or things you'll use once and then end up sitting in your cabinet collecting dust. But then I read about this Everyday Yellow Dal on smitten kitchen and it seemed pretty inciting. After reading the ingredients I was surprised to realize that I already had basically everything (except the yellow split peas and cilantro, which i hate anyway) on hand. I made it last night and it was very simple but did take some planning because you need to soak the split peas for an hour and simmer the dal for about an hour as well. I was a little bit nervous that it wouldn't be that great because there weren't many ingredients, just a lot of spices, but it ended up tasting amazing. To make it healthier I added less oil because I thought a 1/4 cup was just too much and less butter. I don't think it affected the flavor or texture at all. Aside for being a great meal with a side of rice or naan, today I used it as a spread on my turkey sandwich and that was good as well.

Everyday Yellow Dal
Adapted from Ruta Kahate via smittenkitchen

1 cup yellow split peas, soaked in cold water for 1 hour
1 large tomato (about 8 ounces), cut into 8 wedges
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds [I used ground cumin]
1 medium red onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, finely ground [I used ground coriander]
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup cilantro [I omitted this]
1 teaspoon salt

Drain the dal (split peas) and place in a large saucepan. Add the tomato and 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until peas are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Pick out any tomato skins and whisk dal to emulsify it. Keep warm over very low heat.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the cumin, covering the pan with a lid or splatter screen. After the seeds have stopped sputtering, add the onion and saute over medium heat. About 3 minutes later, add the garlic and saute until most of the onion has turned dark brown, about 5 minutes altogether. Add the coriander, turmeric and cayenne, stir and pour mixture over the dal. Add the butter and salt to the dal and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve hot.

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