This is a really tasty recipe which I cooked after getting back from a long trip barely anything in my fridge other than an onion and some garlic. I had been away for three weeks and was itching to get back in my kitchen, cook and eat a nice meal. I found some puy lentils in the cupboard but had never actually cooked them in an Indian way before, this recipe was pretty spontaneous and developed according to what I had in the fridge and freezer and my Indian sensibilities I suppose. I really surprised myself when I tasted it, cause it really was so damn good, slightly even reminding me of chole paneer. My husband and I totally devoured it in our tired jet lagged state with some yummy Malaysian style parathas (crispy flat breads which I always keep a stash of in my freezer) before crashing out by 7:15pm.
If you like your indian food, it is a good idea to buy good quality paneer in a large quantity and get the shop to cut it up into 450 gram or 1 pound blocks (again from Kalyustans if you live in Manhattan) and freeze it after wrapping it tightly in cling film. When you need it, you can either defrost naturally if you have time, or microwave the paneer for 30 seconds, cut it up and add to what ever you like in a jiffy. You don’t necessarily need the paneer in this dish if you don’t have any at home, just adds a really nice dimension to the daal. I would also like to mention that I used tamarind water in this for a sour note (you get great ones in thai supermarkets), you can leave it out if you don’t have it at home and it will still taste very good.
I really enjoyed this dish and found it very satisfying, so much so that I found myself thinking maybe I could try Jamie Oliver’s “go vegetarian for a month challenge” this new year, cause I really would not miss meat with dishes like this around, surprisingly even the hubby seems to be up for it! I still have not committed to it yet, but just maybe, I might!
PUY LENTILS (MASOOR DAAL) WITH PANEER
- 1 cup puy lentils, washed and drained
- 4 cups water
- 3 cloves crushed garlic
- 1 teaspoon crushed ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tablespoon tamarind water or 1/2 tsp tamarind concentrate, not too much (taste and add more if needed)
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 150 grams chopped paneer (optional)
Tempering or Tadka
- 2 cm cube of butter
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- pinch of asafetida
- 3 dried red chillies
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 5-6 curry leaves
- 1/3 cup chopped tomato or tinned
- 1 – 2 green chillies
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 3/4 tsp garam masala
Place the puy lentils in a heavy based saucepan, add water, ginger, garlic, turmeric, salt and bring to a boil. Cook for 25 – 30 minutes till lentils are cooked.
Tempering or Tadka
Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan, add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and pinch of asafetida. Stir and cook for a few seconds before adding the onions. Fry the onions for a few minutes, add garlic and add the curry leaves cook a couple of minutes and the tomatoes. Now cook for a 5 minutes or so and then add the cumin powder, coriander powder and garam masala. Stir and cook for 3 minutes or so. Add this tempering mixture to your cooked lentils and continue cooking lentils on low heat so all the flavors combine. Add a little more water if lentils are going too thick at any point.
Now add in the tamarind water and sugar. Taste and adjust the seasoning so all the flavors are balanced. Add cubes of paneer and mix through, cook for couple of minutes.
Serve the daal with some rice, parathas or other bread of your choice. If serving with rice, add a little water to the lentils so they are not too thick.