Make your favorite Dal at home

This Epicurious article by Tara O’Brady, with recipe, explains all the different lentils that can be used to make the Indian dish  “dal”. Their suggestion to choose your favorite Dal from an Indian restaurant is a great one. Once you know which lentil has been used then you can follow the recipe here to make your own. Enjoy !

The only secret ingredient you need is patience.

Many people assume that Indian food is always complex and time-consuming, and that it requires a pantry’s worth of ingredients. If that were true, we Indians would have given up cooking centuries ago. The truth is, while the cuisine is as vast and as varied as the subcontinent itself, everyday Indian cooking isn’t about elaborate, restaurant-style curries with mile-long ingredient lists. In home kitchens, you’ll find straightforward dishes that use the same smallish collection of ingredients in myriad ways. Take dal, for instance.

A simple weeknight Indian meal might include a subzi (Indian-style stir-fried vegetables); a fresh salad like cachoombar (similar to pico de gallo); plain cooked rice, or chapattis or roti (whole-grain flatbreads), and occasionally a not-too-rich meat curry such as keema, or spiced fish or chicken. But at the center of it all, you’ll usually find a simple, and very satisfying, dal.

How to Make Everyday Yellow Dal

Derived from the Sanskrit word that means “to split”, dal is a collective term for pulses—lentils, peas, and beans. While sometimes used in other dishes, these pulses are usually served slow-simmered into a soft, porridge-like dish that’s also called dal. It’s one of the most widespread and traditional daily foods across India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, and like any dish that millions of people cook daily, dal is infinitely adaptable. The type of pulse used, the consistency of the final dish, and the seasonings will be different from region to region and house to house. 

Far from being a side dish, dal is meant to function like gravy. It is what brings everything else on the plate together; not only in terms of flavor, but also in the literal sense when eating with your hands. When served with a grain like rice or a wheat-based bread, dal forms a complete protein that sustains and satisfies for very little expense.

First, find your favorite dal

There are too many dals on this planet to address them all. Instead, I’ll introduce you to the handful of varieties I cook most often. All of these pulses can be mixed and matched in any combination when making dal—find them at Indian markets or stock up online.

Moong dal, the pale, butter-yellow split dal made from hulled green mung beans, is the one my children consider our household standard. It’s one of the quickest-cooking dals, which is probably why I choose it so often. Urad dal, a black-skinned dal with a white interior, is the basis for indulgent butter dal (dal makhani), where it is cooked with dairy, ghee and red beans. 

Masoor dal is a deep pinkish-orange split lentil (also called “red lentil”) that turns into a gentle golden color once cooked. It’s commonly stewed or used in soups. 

Chana dal is actually a large category of chickpea varieties, ranging in color from blackish brown to pale beige. Like whole cooked chickpeas, chana dal has an especially earthy, nutty taste. 

Toor or toovar dal are split and hulled pigeon peas, and taste like a more flavorful version of yellow split peas. They’re especially popular in south Indian sambhar.

Then give your dal a bath, not a shower

Always pick over your chosen pulses before using: Just spread them out on a plate or rimmed baking sheet and check for stones or any other bits that aren’t supposed to be there. After that, you’ll want to wash them. Whenever I hear complaints of dal tasting dusty or legume-ish, it’s usually because it wasn’t washed enough. Running the dal under running water in a strainer won’t cut it—instead, submerge the dal in a large bowl of water, swish it around thoroughly, and then drain. Repeat until the water runs clear.

Simmer without stress

By and large, hulled dals will cook faster than their skin-on counterparts, and split dals will cook faster than whole ones. Many Indian home cooks use pressure cookers for making dal, including my dad, but frankly they terrify me a little. Plus, they require more precision when it comes to the ratio of water to pulse. I’m a bit lackadaisical and follow my maternal grandmother’s advice, simmering the dal slowly and adding water as necessary, until it reaches the consistency I’m aiming for. Further, I prefer how dals cooked this way retain more of their textural integrity, compared to the uniformity of those cooked under pressure.

To make dal, you’ll always want to start by simmering it in water. Some cooks will start the dal off with onion or salt, but I was taught to save all seasoning for the end of cooking with the exception of turmeric, which is added after the dal comes to its first boil and you’ve skimmed off the foam from the surface.

Dal can be thick or quite thin, depending on the where it’s being made and how it’s intended to be used. For moong, I want the dal to be loose enough to puddle on the plate, never pasty. You can easily thicken the dal by simmering it a bit more (uncovered, of course), or thin it out a bit with some extra water. If you’d like to make it smoother (and the dal is already completely tender), just whisk it a few times. Some recipes tell you to puree the dal in a blender, but I rarely do so.

Finish with flavor

Like the word dal, tempering or tardka is a double-duty term in the Indian kitchen. The tardka is both the seasoning itself and the act of adding it to the dal. The tardka is usually made with melted ghee or oil, into which whole or ground spices such as cumin (jeera), coriander seed, clove, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns, mustard seed, asafoetida, or fenugreek are fried. Onions, garlic, tomatoes, curry leaves, and chiles—fresh or dried— may also be included. On a festive occasion the tardka might be rather complex, but the basic everyday one I use for moong dal is just ghee, onion, and whole cumin seeds. And maybe a split chile. I stir most of the tardka into the dal just before serving, reserving a little to drizzle on top. A little chopped cilantro is my other customary garnish.

Everyday Yellow Dal Recipe

For the dal:

1 cup (225 g) moong dal (split yellow lentils)

3 cups (710 ml) water

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

Medium-grain kosher salt

For the tarka:

2 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 small onion, minced

1 or 2 fresh or dried whole red chiles

Leaves picked from a small bunch of cilantro

Fresh lime wedges

To make the dal, in a medium heavy saucepan, cover the dal with water. Swish the lentils around with your hand, then drain the water through a fine-mesh sieve. Return any dal from the sieve to the saucepan and repeat, washing, agitating, and draining, until the water runs absolutely clear. It will probably take 7 to 10 changes of water. Pour the 3 cups (710 ml) of water into the pot to cover the lentils. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, skim any scum that rises to the surface, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Add the turmeric and cook until the dal is quite creamy, 45 to 60 minutes. Stir the dal regularly as it simmers or it can catch at the bottom of the pan and burn. If the dal starts to look dry before the lentils are cooked, add hot water (from the tap is fine). Season well with salt.

About 20 minutes before the dal is done, make the tarka. Melt the ghee over low heat. Fry the cumin seeds for maybe 1 minute, until sizzling and fragrant. Add the onion and chile and cook, stirring, until the onion is very soft and translucent, 15 minutes. When the dal is ready, tip the tarka over the dal, stir to partially combine, then sprinkle the cilantro on top. Serve right away with lime wedges and naan or over rice.


So you think Russia trying to influence the US voting public is a new thing ? Better read your history..

Tuesday marks the 100th anniversary of a remarkable success for British intelligence: but one that involved spying on the United States and then conspiring with its senior officials to manipulate public opinion in America.

Why was the Zimmerman Telegram so important?


How cold is it in Germany ?…

From BBC Europe

Frozen Mister Fox

A hunter in Germany has displayed a fox which froze inside a block of ice to warn people of the dangers of the icy Danube river.
The fox is thought to have fallen into the river and drowned before quickly freezing.

Franz Stehle put the animal on display outside his family’s hotel in Fridingen, on the upper reaches of the Danube.  

Mr Stehle said he had seen other frozen animals, including deer and wild boar.

Favorite Things, Ramblings

Studio Ghibli and Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter

Oh, the joy ! Amazon Prime members will be able to watch a new Studio Ghibli release. 

Amazon Prime memberships are in for a treat — the acclaimed Japanese studio has made a television series, and it’s coming to the service on January 27.

The 26-episode show, “Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter” is based on a book by “Pippi Longstocking” author Astrid Lindgren, and the series is narrated by “X-Files” star Gillian Anderson. The series ran in Japan in 2014.

“The daughter of a professional robber, Ronja realizes the complicated nature of her father’s profession when she befriends Birk, the child of a rival tribe,” the show’s description reads. “She struggles to balance this friendship with her family relationship but comes to understand how differences can be overcome with the help of love and understanding.”


Meanwhile, In Canada…


If you spot a moose attempting to clean your car.. Don’t try to stop it. 

Officials in western Canada are warning motorists not to interact with moose if they find the animals licking salt off their cars. 
An alert issued by the province of Alberta’s government says that moose are approaching vehicles in car parks near two trails in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, and warns people not to try to push the animals away while on foot. 

It advises that the recommended “moose viewing distance” is 30m (100ft), and any car-licking creatures should be deterred by either sounding a horn or using a remote door alarm instead. As CBC news points out, adult moose can weigh more than 1,000lb (453kg), so shoving one is unlikely to be effective. The animals can become aggressive and charge people or vehicles if they feel threatened. 

Dr Doug Whiteside from Calgary Zoo tells Global News that moose and other wildlife ordinarily get all the salt they need in their diets. “If there is no natural source of salt available they will find an alternate source, like the salt from the roads on vehicles,” he says.

The Alberta warning is in place until further notice, and officials are asking people to report any “aggressive moose encounters” immediately. 

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Thank You, Mr. Wong

Tyrus Wong, the artist whose works inspired the Disney film Bambi, has died aged 106.A Chinese immigrant, Mr Wong’s vibrant paintings captured Walt Disney’s eye and became the basis of the film’s distinct style.

In a statement, the Walt Disney Family Museum said “his influence on the artistic composition of the animated feature Bambi cannot be overstated.”

He died at home surrounded by his family.

Mr Wong emigrated to the United States from China as a child, with his father – leaving behind his mother and a sister he would never see again. 

After studying as an artist, he began working with Disney in 1938 as an “inbetweener”, drawing hundreds of pictures between poses to create the illusion of motion. 

Looked and Felt Like A Forest

When the film studio began pre-production on Bambi, “he went home and painted several pictures of a deer in a forest”, the Disney museum said.

“Walt Disney saw that Tyrus was able to produce exquisite artwork that did not necessarily look like the forest – but rather, felt like the forest. Walt’s vision for Bambi and use of Tyrus’ work still influences films today,” it said.

Tyrus Wong only worked at Disney for three years, moving to Warner Brothers as a concept artist, designing greeting cards for Hallmark on the side. 

After retiring, he turned to creating hundreds of elaborate bamboo kites, received many awards in recognition of his work, and became the subject of a documentary about his life.

Writing about his death, the documentary’s director said “with his passing, we have lost a brilliant artist, motion picture and animation legend, Chinese American pioneer, and hero. 

“Tyrus always faced adversity with dignity, courage, and art… he awed us with his talent, charmed us with his boyish humour, and moved us with his humility, generosity, resilience, and big heart.” 

1/1/17 Article by BBC America