If you're new to Indian cooking, dal is a good place to start. This recipe for Pakistani lentils comes courtesy of Sachin Chopra, consulting chef at Arka and chef-owner at All Spice. Note: For this recipe, you'll need a piece of cheesecloth, cut into a 6-inch wide square.
From Sachin Chopra
2 cups masoor dal (red lentils), rinsed 3 times
1/2 teaspoon plus another 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, divided
4 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
4 black cardamom seeds
5 green cardamom pods
1/4 cup clarified butter
2 dried red chiles
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 medium onion, chopped
1” cube ginger, finely chopped
2 green chilies, chopped
10 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/8 tsp garam masala
1/8 teaspoon deghi mirch
1 teaspoon chaat masala
1/8 teaspoon asefetida (hing)
1 tomato, chopped
- Boil the dal with a half the turmeric and a cheesecloth sachet of cloves, cinnamon, black and green cardamom, until soft.
- Skim the foam and discard it, reserving the dal and cooking liquid. In a separate large pot, melt the butter and toast the red chiles, cumin and mustard seeds until they pop.
- Add the onions, ginger, garlic and green chilies and cook about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
- Add the garam masala, deghi mirch, chaat masala, and hing and cook on a low fire for 2 minutes.
- Add the chopped tomato and a little water, and cook the mixture until the oil rises to the top.
- Mix in the dal, and boil until the flavors marry. Adjust the seasoning with salt and lemon juice.
- Serve hot, topped with chopped cilantro.