This is my interpretation of mash ki dal, which is traditionally a lentil dish made from tikki dal. For this version, I prepared it with pearled barley, which I think has a marvelous texture that works well for the dish. I soaked the barley overnight so the grains were fully hydrated.
The rest of the preparation consists of a few coarsely chopped tomatoes, dried red chiles, thinly sliced ginger and chopped coriander. It's nutritious, tasty and not that complicated. Perfect for our family's dinner meal!
I'll be in Los Angeles this weekend sharing samples from my latest cookbook, Banh Mi, at a pre-party for the Golden Globes. Stay tuned for pictures!
Servings: 4 servings
1¼ cups pearl barley
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 dried red chiles
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon homemade garam masala
1 tomato, chopped
⅛ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 Serrano green pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 lime, freshly squeezed
1 tablespoon cilantro, coarsely chopped
¼ cup vegetable oil (or any neutral oil)
Prepping the chiles: Using a paring knife, make a 2-inch incision in the green chile pepper. For less heat, remove the seeds (don't forget to wear disposable gloves). Set aside.
Prepping the ginger: Clean the chunk of fresh ginger, carefully removing any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife or the edge of a spoon, then grate it using a Microplane.
Soaking the barley: In a bowl, wash the barley thoroughly. Soak in about 1 quart water for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Drain as much liquid as possible. Set aside.
In a large pan, heat the canola oil. Add the yellow onion and cook for about 6-8 minutes until soft and nicely golden. Leaving as much oil as possible in the pan, transfer to a platter. Set aside.
In the same pan, add the chile and cook until softened. Add barley, ginger, turmeric, dried chiles, red chili powder and garam masala. Add about 1 cup water (as needed), the chopped tomato and stir. Bring to a boil without covering, then lower to medium heat and cook for about 15 minutes. Check the softness, add a little more water and continue cooking if necessary (I didn't). If the grains start sticking to the bottom, add a little more water (¼ cup). Season with salt. Turn off the heat. Add the reserved caramelized onions and cilantro. Gently stir the grains without mashing them. Cover and let stand until you're ready to serve.
Serve warm or at room temperature with roti or basmati rice on the side.
Pearl barley is a grain that has been processed and had its tough, inedible outer shell removed.
If you want to make authentic garam masala, stick to the main ingredients such as cardamamom, black pepper, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cloves.