Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Astho Kalai Dal - Whole Black Lentils

Astho Kalai Dal
Astho Kalai Dal which simply refers to whole black lentils, are richer than lentils that are served daily, because the black lentils have not been hulled and contain much more fiber than the hulled and split lentils. Whole lentils don't break down completely, leaving a watery residue so to make it thick and creamy, channa dal is cooked along with the urad dal. It's a popular dish among truckers who dine at truck stops or 'dhabasall over India. 

The lentils are soaked for half an hour and pressure cooked  with onions, ginger and a variety of spices. In spite of using only half a stick of butter, these lentils were creamy and delicious. They go well with hot, steamed rice or with a variety of Indian breads.

1 cup whole black lentils/sabut urad dal
3 cups water
1/2 cup channa dal
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. chili powder
salt to taste

4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 large onion, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
2 Tbsp. ginger paste
1 Tbsp. garlic paste
1 Tbsp. kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves
1 Tbsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 Tbsp. Bengali garam masala 

green chilies to taste, minced
chopped coriander greens/cilantro
1/2 stick butter
salt to taste
sugar to taste

  1. Mix ginger and garlic pastes, kasuri methi, coriander & cumin powders, garam masala with a little water and set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. Pressure cook the two dals with 3 cups water, turmeric, chili powder and salt for 15 minutes and allow pressure to release naturally.
  3. Heat oil over medium-high heat and sputter cumin seeds and green chilies.
  4. Add onions and stir-fry until they soften and turn translucent.
  5. Add tomatoes and masala paste from step 1 and simmer until tomatoes break down.
  6. Add cooked dal, stir well and adjust water, salt and sugar to taste.
  7. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
  8. Garnish with butter and cilantro and serve with steamed rice or chapatis.

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