I am on a mission to eat daal everyday. #30daysofdaal is all about cooking, eating and of course blogging about a new daal recipe every day in June. With this ambitious project, I not only want to up my own daal intake, but also showcase some of the lesser known but delicious daal recipes from India.
Masoor Daal here is actually whole black masoor or the brown lentils you get in almost any Walmart store. A language lesson might be called for. In Hindi, Daal refers to both the grain and the prepared dish. For example, our Moong Daal recipe referred to a specific daal dish, but also used yellow moong daal. This Masoor Daal is made using black masoor.
This is one of my favorite family recipes, and I have not eaten this in any restaurant or even at any other friend/ relative’s place. I remember one stormy icy Midwestern winter night a few years ago. The foul weather had brought on some homesickness and I was chilled to the bone. I yearned for something comforting, something that would instantly establish a connection with home. I was a carnivore in those days and weeknights were generally a chicken curry that I stretched out for 3-4 days or some quick egg based concoction. But I wanted something really earthy and filling.
Luckily, I had all the ingredients for this black masoor daal. As you will see, this is a very simple recipe that uses pantry ingredients. The cumin and coconut combine with garlic to create a unique flavor combination. We don’t use this combination or this particular method for anything else at home, so the smells, the texture, the taste – everything associated with this recipe smacks of childhood winters for me.
This masoor daal is very forgiving because you can either slow cook it on the stove top or in a pressure cooker. I did not own a pressure cooker in those days, and I generally preferred masoor daal and moong daal which is easy to cook on the stove top.
As a Law & Order marathon played on TV, I immersed myself in making this daal. A surprise dinner guest turned up in the form of a neighbor and I was happy for the company. My friend hailed from Southern India and she was very very impressed with the daal. She just couldn’t get enough of it.
Something about the recipe itself – use dry powdered coconut (unsweetened) or just a piece that you rip off. The dry roasting step is important because it will lend all those smoky flavors and totally change the color, taste and texture of the finished recipe. You can mince the garlic, coconut and cumin seeds in a small chopper or food processor, or just pound it coarsely in a mortar and pestle.
This recipe is vegan but we generally serve it with steaming hot rice and a dollop of ghee. In traditional Indian cooking, almost everything is topped with ghee. But this is of course an optional step.
Black Masoor Daal with cocounut is set to be your favorite recipe for years to come.
Black Masoor Daal with Coconut
- 1 cup whole masoor
- 5-6 cloves garlic
- 1 inch piece dry coconut or
- 2 Tbsp dry coconut grated/powdered
- 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp turmeric (optional)
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 Tbsp oil
- Pinch of hing or Asafoetida
- ¼ tsp goda masala (optional)
- 1 tsp sugar
- Salt to taste
- Roast the black masoor or lentils lightly until aromatic. You can pressure cook them with 2-3 cups of water.
- Dry roast the cumin seeds and coconut until highly aromatic and cocounut is almost black on the outside.
- Grind the coconut, cumin seeds and garlic in a mixer or mortar and pestle.
- Heat oil in a thick stock pot or wok.
- When oil heats, add the ground spice mixture and stir for a minute.
- Add cooked or washed uncooked daal and mix well.
- Add enough water to thin out cooked daal/ add 2-3 cups water in case you are planning to cook the daal now on the stovetop.
- Add seasonings and bring to a boil.
- Simmer until thick and creamy.
- Serve hot with rice or roti or just as a soup.
- Note: Be careful with the goda masala because it should not overpower the cumin-coconut flavor.
This Black Masoor Daal with its smoky cumin, roasted coconut and zesty garlic flavors is the taste of winter in my home. I hope you try this recipe and let me know how it turns out.