Greg's mixed dal
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This recipe is based on one originally published in the “Australian Women's Weekly” book of “Easy Indian-style cookery”. The name is valid: though there are some good recipes, many of them would surprise an Indian. Still, with some adaptation, I think this one is worth the trouble.

This recipe produces a large quantity of dal, about 30 serves. It's a fair amount of work, but it freezes well, so it seems reasonable to make this much at a time.


quantity       ingredient       step
200 g       mung dal       1
200 g       tur dal (yellow split peas)       1
200 g       masur dal (red lentils)       1
30 g       cumminseed       2
22.5 g       coriander seed       2
5 g       turmeric       2
25 g       ginger       3
800 g       onion       3
25 g       garlic       3
60 g       ghee       3
10 g       black mustard seed       4
5 g       nigella       4
10 g       ghee       4
1600 g       canned tomatoes       6
400 ml       water       6
16 g (4)       stock cubes       6
20       curry leaves       6
35 g       salt       6


  1. Wash the dal. Opinions differ greatly on soaking: some people recommend soaking overnight, but this is seldom necessary, and in the case of masur dal, may lead to complete disintegration. I soak for the time it takes to perform the other steps, about 30 minutes, though on one occasion this wasn't nearly enough: the tur dal took forever to cook. I suspect that this was due to old ingredients.

  2. Grind the whole spices and add to any already ground spices.

  3. Finely mince (purée) onions, garlic and ginger in a blender, starting with some of the onions and the (molten) ghee, adding the remainder as the mixture become homogeneous.

  4. Fry the whole mustard seed and nigella separately in little ghee until they start to pop. Immediately add the puréed onion mixture and fry until the ghee separates. Be careful with the heat: as the mixture dries out, it risks burning. It should not brown.

  5. Add the ground spices (2) to the mixture and fry for another minute or so until well mixed and the mixture smells cooked.

  6. Add dal, tomatoes, stock and curry leaves, ensure that the solids are covered, bring to the boil. Adjust salt and cook for about an hour, depending on the dal used. The dal should remain firm.

    A real vegetarian dal should not include any chicken broth, of course, but that's an ideological issue rather than a culinary one.

The dal can be served garnished with chopped coriander.

I've seen recommendations, such as in the recipe from which I derived this one, to add cream. I can't believe this is genuine; it's possible, though, that yoghurt would taste good. It also tastes very good without it.

Dahl, dhal or dal?

I've seen at least three different spellings for the Indian word dal. I'm pretty sure that dhal is incorrect, at least in Hindi, but should it be dahl or dal? In the past I've used the former, but I've decided that it doesn't really make sense, so I'm now using the latter spelling. The Oxford English Dictionary agrees, noting that “dal” is a Sanskrit word meaning “divide”, clearly related to German „Teil“ and English “deal”. I note that Wikipedia has also taken up this spelling, and there's a justification very similar to my own in the talk page.

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