March 20, 2011

Chana Dal

I've made it a habit to cruise through the local liquidation stores for some of the items I use to cook with.  There's often some great deals on organic and unusual ingredients I like to use.  I always check for coconut milk, I've found it as low as $1 a can.  Lately they've had the low sodium vegetable broth I like to use for 50¢ a carton.  I bought a whole case of those. I'm usually pleased when they are 2 for $5 at the grocery store. I use the vegetable broth pretty regularly.

I picked up a big bag of Chana Dal at the liquidator store the other day which prompted me to make a nice pot of Chana Dal. Chana Dal is a smaller chickpea called desi and the variety that is used most often is called Myles. It resembles a yellow split pea, but is no relation to a pea other than being a legume. I made it twice this weekend.  I made a batch yesterday morning and my husband must have really liked it.  We came home late from a show in Portland last night. I thought I'd have a late night snack when we got home. I looked for it and found that he had eaten the whole pot I made before we had left.  I made another this morning, it is an easy dish and very nutritious. I am impressed with nutrients in this little legume per serving: 21 grams protein, 22 grams fiber, only 6 grams of fat, and no cholesterol.

Chana Dal

    * 1 c. chana dal
    * 7 c. water
    * 1 t. salt
    * 1/4 t. each cayenne, turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder
    * 1 T. tamarind pulp (or 1 T. lemon juice & 1 t. sugar)
    * 1 T. vegetable oil
    * 1/4 t. black mustard seeds
    * 1 clove garlic, chopped
    * Coconut Creme from one can of coconut milk

Measure the dal into a bowl and sort through it to remove any unskinned (dark) dal, small stones or other debris. Soak the chana dal in 4 c. water for 2-3 hours, then wash under running water and drain.
Bring 3 c. water and the salt to boil in a medium-size pot. Add the chana dal and wait for the water to begin its second boil, then cover the pot and cook over medium-to-low eat for 30 min. At this time, remove the cover and stir up the dal. To the open pot add the cayenne, turmeric, cumin, coriander and the tamarind pulp (skin & seeds removed). Stir well and allow to simmer uncovered while you prepare the next step.

In a separate small pot or frying pan, heat the vegetable oil over low heat and add the mustard seeds and chopped garlic to it. When the oil gets hot, the mustard seeds will begin to pop (really. and they may spatter a bit.). When they have ceased popping, add the oil mixture to the simmering pot of dal.

Immediately cover the pot and keep covered for 2 min. while the dal continues to simmer. Then remove the cover and stir once with a spoon to mix in the new ingredients. Cook uncovered for another 5 min. and the dal is ready to be served with rice or bread.

Taste to correct seasoning  This dal is fairly thick in consistency.  I added the cream from one can of coconut milk at the end of the cooking to make it a creamy soup.

Chana Dal Spices: Turmeric, Coriander, Cayenne, Cumin, Garlic Cloves, Black Mustard Seed

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