Toor dal is a staple dish in Indian cuisine. What I like the most about this dish is that no soaking is required. Like kali dal, the lentil dish is finished with baghar, which is a layer of melted ghee with fried darkened garlic cloves.
Yields: 4 servings1 cup toor dal
2 tablespoons canola oil (or any neutral oil)
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, for color
½ teaspoon red chili powder
1 quart water, as needed
4 dried red chiles
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
3 cloves garlic
Wash the lentils. Discard any floating or odd-shaped lentils. Wash and rinse thoroughly in several water baths (about three times). Drain the lentils, removing as much of the soaking water as possible. No soaking required.
In a small pot, combine the lentils, turmeric powder, dried red chiles and red chili powder. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil (I used garlic-infused oil). Add water; the water should cover the lentils entirely. Bring to a boil then lower to a gentle simmer for 45 minutes. Add 1-½ teaspoons of salt half-way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the lentils and the lentils will be more tender) and keep stirring every now and then so the lentils don't stick to the bottom of the pot. Add the lemon juice.
Transfer one third of the amount of cooked lentils into the bowl of an immersion blender. Coarsely blend the mixture and pour it back into the pot. Depending on how thick you like toor dal, you can add up to 2 cup of boiling water. Add little mounds of ghee into the lentils. Adjust seasoning and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes over low-heat. Transfer to a serving bowl. Adjust seasoning.
Coarsely chop the garlic (I cut each clove into four pieces).
This step is called Baghar: When you're ready to serve, heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a small saucepan, add the garlic pieces. Cook in the hot oil; the garlic will darken. Add ghee. Remove from the heat and immediately transfer to the toor dal. Cover the toor dal with a lid (I used a plate to preserve the nice fragrance).
Serve with basmati rice.
Toor dal (also known as "split pigeon peas") can be found in any Asian or Indian stores.
For a faster coking time, you could also cook the lentils in a pressure cooker. It would take only 20 minutes (instead of a long hour).
Ghee is the Indian version of clarified butter. You can find it in jars at Indian stores. But if you don't have ghee, you can use butter instead.
Baghar is a very common step toward the end of cooking in many Indian dishes. I use a small 0.3-quart saucepan that I exclusively use for baghar.Published By: on March 21, 2010.