CHANNA DAL (small yellow split lentils, for four)
“Of all the dals, this one perhaps has the meatiest taste. At its best, it also has a gentle sweetness. If you cannot find channa dal, substitute yellow split peas.” Madhur Jaffrey
8 ounces channa dal, or yellow split lentils, washed, drained and picked over
2 pints water
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 thin slices unpeeled ginger
¾ to 1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garam masala
3 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
¼ to ½ teaspoon red chili powder
1. Put the dal into a heavy pan along with the water. Bring to a boil and remove any surface scum. Add the turmeric and ginger. Cover, leaving the lid very slightly ajar, turn the heat to low and simmer gently for 1-1/2 hours, or until the dal is tender. Stir every 5 minutes or so during the last 30 minutes to prevent sticking. Add the salt and garam masala and stir to mix.
2. Put the ghee in a small frying pan and set over medium heat. When hot, put in the cumin seeds. A couple of seconds later, put in the garlic. Stir and fry until the garlic pieces are lightly browned. Put the chili powder into the pan. Immediately, lift the pan off the heat and pour its entire contents – ghee and spices – into the pan with the dal. Stir to mix.