Memories…… memories are the most valuable family possessions that are shared and also that which brings hearts together. On looking back on various childhood events and memories, I would say that flavour is intrinsically linked with memories and emotions.
Born and brought up in Maharashtra, India and my mother tongue being Tamil, I was brought up with a brilliant amalgamation of two beautiful cultures. In my first blog I shared the story of my dad’s Rasam – a typical Tamilian dish. In this post I take you through a journey to explore a typical comfort food from Maharashtra. While growing up, a hot bowl of home cooked ‘dal bhat’ was the perfect dish to make me drool.
Once I was in my teens, my folks (like most parents) kept sharing various stories about my childhood – many embarrassing, but most amazing. Even today while making this dish, I tend to go back to these beautiful memories and relive the crankiness of a 2 year old me over this dish :).
This story was from the summer vacations of 1980s, and had two main characters: a two-year-old psycho–me, and my tiny little brother (who in reality is 5 years older than me). Since our parents used to go to work daily, they used to leave us with our nanny who was short and stout. She used to find it a challenge to control the tornados as we used to run around the house creating a commotion. During these vacations, one day my mom had to travel on work and coincidently my nanny too fell ill and couldn’t come to babysit us. My dad made a hot bowl of dal bhat for our lunch, and left for work. After playing the entire day and running around the house, the 2-year old- me got tired and felt hungry as a bear – I was ready to have a fairly big meal. My tiny little brother served me some dal and rice, which by then was quite cold. I cried my heart out, insisted and fussed that I wanted hot food and my brother had no idea what to do, since he had rarely ever used the kitchen before. To pacify me, he decided to boil some water and poured it into my dal rice mixture and asked me eat this immediately. My puny brother’s presence of mind took care of my hunger and even today brings a smile to my face when I see a bowl of hot dal bhat.
Dal bhat is a traditional dish that is famous in many parts of India. It basically consists of steamed rice – called bhat – with a lentil soup – called dal. It is simply cooked with tomatoes and condiments and a tempering of ghee would just make it rich and delicious. It is one of the simplest and easiest dishes to make and is rich in proteins, low in fat and extremely nutritious. Since my childhood no meal used to be complete without a dal – my dad was the one who introduced me to this amazing dal tadka (tempered dal). Here’s the recipe of a simple & homely dal.
Easy and simple
- Toor dal – 1 cup
- Tomatoes – 1 (medium)
- Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
- Coriander – ½ tbsp
- Salt as per required
- Water – 1-2 cups
- Lemon – 1 nos
For the tempering:
- Clarified butter (Ghee) – 2 tsp
- Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
- Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
- Asafoetida – a pinch
- Curry leaves – 5-6 nos.
- Ginger – 1 – 1 ½ inches grated
- Garlic – 1-2 cloves (finely chopped)
- Green chillies – 1-2 nos. slit
- Soak the toor dal for 15-20 mins.
- Pressure-cook the toor dal with turmeric powder, water and finely chopped tomatoes.
- Once the pressure settles down, mash the dal until smooth.
- Take a kadhai (frying pan) and heat some ghee
- Add grated ginger and garlic and fry until brown.
- Then add cumin and mustard seeds and allow it to splutter
- Then add the curry leaves, asafoetida and green chillies
- Add the mashed dal and salt to the above tempering (Add water if required).
- Boil the dal for 5-6 minutes so that the flavours of the tempering gets infused.
- Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
- Serve this hot dal with plain rice/jeera rice.
(Tip: Squeeze lemon onto the dal as it adds some tangy taste to the earthiness of the dal.)
Sit back, relax and enjoy your hot dal bhat!