Considered highly nutritious and rich in protein, dal is the generic name for all legumes, lentils, dried beans, and peas. Available at your local supermarkets and Indian grocery stores, dal is always prepared in combination with pungent herbs and spices, such as garlic, ginger, onion, black pepper, chilies, mustard seeds, asafoetida, cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek seeds, onion seeds, salt, and oil or clarified butter. Buy legumes and beans in small quantities and store them in a dry place.
Zucchini Lentils (Tori ka Dal)
This healthy recipe is prepared with pink salmon-colored lentils (masoor dal) and is the perfect accompaniment with rice or roti. You can substitute zucchini for yellow squash, pumpkin, gourd, spinach, or daikon.
1 pound pink lentils
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 quarts water
Salt to taste
¼ cup corn oil
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced fine
7 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
½-inch fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped fine
1 small dried red chili
¼ teaspoon asafoetida
1 pound small zucchini, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 large tomato, chopped fine
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
Soak the lentils in a pot of cold water for 10 minutes. Rinse and drain the lentils three times.
In a medium pot, add the water, lentils, turmeric powder, and salt. Cover and boil over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until lentils are cooked.
Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. Add the cumin seeds and sauté for 1-2 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the cumin seeds change color. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and red chili and sauté for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add the asafoetida and stir thoroughly for 1 minute.
Add the cooked lentils, zucchini, and tomato and stir thoroughly for 1-2 minutes. Cover and cook for 6-7 minutes. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.
Serve hot with basmati rice or roti, chicken kebab, vegetables, and yogurt salad.
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