Although we are not vegetarians, we embraced vegetarianism in India. The variety of vegetarian food there was so great and neither one of us had any stomach problems whatsoever during our six weeks in Rajasthan! Here is one of our favourite vegetarian dishes, fried daal.
Part I: Prepare the Daal
- 200 gr. (1/2 lb) split green gram daal (dal, dahl)
Note: In my journal I described split green gram daal as ‘tiny yellow lentils’. When I tried to find them locally, the clerk told what I wanted was chana daal, a type of chickpea. It was considerably larger than the ‘gram’ in my photos, and didn’t ‘dissolve’ into runny puree like the ‘gram’, even after I had reheated it several times. Although the taste was very similar, it was starchier than the Indian original.
- wash with hands to get the starch off and rinse. This applies to both the gram and the chana daal
- 1200ml (5 cups) water
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 long green chiles, deseeded and finely chopped (Note: I used one large jalapeño, but in our class we used something similar to a serrano)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- pinch ground coriander seeds
Bring to a boil, then simmer until soft. This takes about 20 minutes for the gram, pictured below. It takes a lot longer for the chana daal, and it never dissolves into a runny puree like the gram.
Part II: Prepare the Fried Vegetables
Meanwhile, prepare the remainder:
- 1 small purple onion or 2 shallots, cut into thin slices
- 2 finely chopped tomatoes… Don’t use regular tomatoes like I did here, they turn into mush. I suspect that blanched and peeled Roma or plum tomatoes would work better; when we were in India we used green tomatoes.
- bunch cilantro, minced
- 2 or 3 whole dried red chiles
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 or 2 tbsp ghee (I used a mix of butter and canola oil at home)
Add to the pot of cooked daal and serve.
Although using the larger chana daal made the dish a tad starchier than the ‘gram’ we used in our Udaipur cooking class, overall the flavour was identical and very good. Below is the video of our cooking class in India!