Masala Daal can be called my own creation, but it is loosely based on the concept of Mussallam, a well known curry from India. Murgh Mussallam is a very popoular dish, but the only place I saw a daal musallam was on a show of Kifayti Kitchen by Pankaj Bhadouria.
Well, I don’t completely remember the recipe, and with power outages and bad connectivity, I didn’t have a chance to look it up on the net. When I had thought of a ‘masala daal’ for #30daysofdaal, I had thought of using the sort of spice base we generally use for a homestyle chicken or mutton curry.
Certain spice pastes are very typically used for meat and fish based gravies. Using these spices or spice pastes in vegetarian dishes or in daal creates a very different vegetarian dish. Some aromas or smells are commonly associated with ‘nonveg’ food, so much so that even when someone smells these kind of spices, they think that meat is being cooked. But you can cook a completely vegetarian, even vegan dish using the same spices.
I am not sure if I have explained my point well, but I will let the recipe speak for itself. I am using a combination of whole masoor and red masoor daal for this recipe. The daal cooks down and adds body and the whole masoor provides some texture even when it is completely cooked and soft.
I am making a spice paste from scratch here. This daal recipe is slightly more elaborate than the other recipes in #30daysofdaal. But it is so worth the trouble. We can call this a Sunday daal or Weekend Daal. Make this for your next party and you will have folks licking their fingers.
The spice paste here is made with dry red chilies, poppy seeds or khuskhus, ginger, garlic and whole spices like cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns and black cardamom. These are roasted with a touch of oil and ground into a fine paste.
We start with caramelizing onions and cooking the daals in them. Then the masala paste is added in and the daal is simmered. Yogurt and tomatoes make it a bit mellow but the end result is still spicy. The spices create a pleasant warmth in your throat.
I am using Byadgi chili for the first time. They gave a nice deep color and a mellow heat. You can also use Kashmiri chili or 1 Tbsp paprika.
The original recipe uses plenty of butter or ghee. I used some ghee, and you can add cream at the end while serving if you find the spices very hot for your liking.
Sunday Masala Daal – Mughalai Daal
- ¾ cup whole masoor
- ¼ cup red masoor daal
- 2 medium onions thinly sliced
- 2 tomatoes chopped
- 1cup plain yogurt whisked
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 3-4 Tbsp ghee
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 Tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp sugar
- Salt to taste
- 4 cloves
- 1 black cardamom
- 1-2 inch cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 bayleaf
- 1 Tbsp khuskhus or white poppy seeds
- 1 inch ginger root
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp oil
- 2 Byadgi chillies or any dry red chili
- Wash the daals and set aside.
- Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a pressure cooker or pressure pan.
- When oil is hot, add the sliced onions and fry until brown. Take care not to burn them.
- Now add the washed daals, turmeric and 2-3 cups of water. Cook for 3 whistles and steam for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, start cooking masala paste. Heat 1 tsp oil in a wok. Gently fry the whole spices and the poppy seeds and chilies one by one. Be very careful with the poppy seeds because they can burn easily.
- Cool the spices and then grind them to a paste adding just a little water.
- Add a spoonful of ghee and maybe a spoon of oil to a wok.
- Add the masala paste and fry until oil separates. Add splashes of water in between to prevent the spice paste from sticking. Ideally, you should fry this paste for 15 minutes on low heat so that it is cooked well and gets a mellow flavor.
- Once the cooker is done, bring the daal to a boil and simmer it.
- Add the cooked masala paste to this daal mixture and stir well to combine. Let simmer for 5 minutes.
- Now add whisked plain yogurt to the daal and cook it out on a low flame.
- Season with salt and 1 tsp sugar, coriander powder and add chopped tomatoes.
- Simmer the daal until it thickens and tomatoes are cooked down. The daal will thicken naturally and also because of poppy seeds in the spice paste.
- Now it is time for the final tadka. Heat ghee in a wok and add some cumin seeds. Pour this mixture over the daal just before serving.
- Serve hot with roti or rice.
Masala Daal was so spicy and so special. It just hit the spot on a rainy, windy evening and warded off the slight chill. You simply must try this recipe. It is not that hard.
#30daysofdaal continues. Looks like all the elaborate recipes on my list have been left for the last week.