Dal image taken by Nik Sharma @abrowntable
Saffron Soul book image take by Sasha Gill @thesashadiaries
Here’s an exclusive recipe from Mira’s cookbook Saffron Soul, the kind of heart-warming dal that you’ll want everyday this season. It’s light, balanced and tasty!
This is the dal I grew up on! It’s quite different from the other dals you’ve tasted, mainly the balance of sweet and sour (khatta meetha) and it’s blended so it’s not as thick as other dals. This works great as part of a thali with other curries and rice and roti, but I equally love it by itself with a dollop of natural yoghurt! There’s lots of lime in this which balances the earthy natural sweetness from the jaggery, and of course a whole array of spices.
Serves 4–6 as part of a thali
200g (7oz/1 cup) toor dal, yellow split dal or pigeon peas
1.2 litres (2 pints/5 cups) boiling water
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds, optional
1–2 dried red chillies or 1 green chilli, slit lengthways
2 cinnamon sticks, optional
2 cloves, optional
¼ teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
10–15 curry leaves
5 tomatoes, chopped, or
5 tablespoons tinned tomatoes
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 – 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1½ teaspoons Himalayan salt or sea salt
3 tablespoons jaggery, brown sugar or coconut sugar
handful of coriander leaves, chopped, plus extra to garnish
4–5 kokum (dried mangosteen), soaked in water, optional
juice of 2 limes
Rinse the toor dal in a sieve a few times under running water until the water is clear, then tip into a saucepan. Add the measured boiling water and soak for at least 20 minutes, but ideally for an hour. Next, boil for 1 hour on a medium–low heat until the dal is a porridge-like consistency.
Alternatively cook the dal in a pressure cooker with the measured water. Bring to the boil, then pressure-cook over a medium–low heat for 20–30 minutes until the dal is soft and cooked.
With a hand-held electric whisk, whisk the dal so that it becomes completely smooth, or blend it in a blender until smooth.
In a large, non-stick saucepan, melt the coconut oil, then add the cumin and mustard seeds and the fenugreek seeds, if using. When the mustard seeds have popped, add the dried red chillies or slit green chilli, cinnamon sticks and cloves, if using. Add the asafoetida and the curry leaves, then immediately add the tomatoes and stir for a minute.
Add the ground turmeric, red chilli powder, grated ginger, salt, jaggery, coriander and kokum, if using, to the tomato mixture and stir. Pour in the blended toor dal, squeeze the lime in and leave to simmer on a low heat for 10–15 minutes until the colour is orange-brown.
Taste the dal and add more lime or jaggery as required. This dal should have a much thinner consistency than other dals, so add a little water if necessary. Serve in a small bowl with the rest of the thali or at the end of the meal with rice and curries.