We ate a lot of dhal during our journey through the subcontinent in 1969. Dhal is comfort food, and variations of it abound. When I first encountered this dish, the first thing that struck me was the use of dried split mung beans, instead of orange or yellow lentils. Every household in this region has a slightly different version, so feel free to tailor the taste to suit your own family.
Wash the dried mung beans in cool water and drain. Place in a large heavy-based saucepan with the ground spices and cinnamon stick. Pour in
Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for about 45–50 minutes, until the mung beans are soft and pulpy, and the water has reduced considerably. Remove the cinnamon stick, transfer the dhal to a bowl and set aside.
In the same saucepan you cooked the dhal, heat the coconut oil for tempering over high heat. When it starts to smoke, add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and dried chillies. When the mustard seeds start to pop, stir in the tomatoes, asafoetida and garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic is golden.
Stir in the curry leaves, followed by the dhal. Bring to a simmer and cook for a final 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
Just before serving, season to taste with salt. Garnish with chopped coriander, fried onion and a sprinkling of chaat masala for colour.
Serve as an accompaniment, or with steamed rice or bread.
© 2018 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.