This Needs to be Dal-ed Up
Granola bars. Chex mix. Water bottles. Single portion packets of Motrin. Tissues. Mini bottles of Jack and Bacardi. That was the contents of my friends’ Katie and Joe’s wedding gift bag. My gift bag, however, included two additional items: black mustard seeds and udad dal split matpe beans.
Just a few weeks ago Katie drove out to the ‘burbs of Virginia or Maryland, I forget which one, and hit up an Indian grocery. She picked up extra goodies for me but in the craziness that is the weeks before a wedding we weren’t able to meet up. Brilliantly, she decided to drop it my gift bag. (Future brides take note!)
For a dinner my friend Raya hosted I decided to try out my newly received lentils.
Now I don’t usually pay for iPhone apps, but Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything is a gem. I googled around for dal recipes, even using its blog filter search, but I couldn’t find anything I wanted to try. I turned to Bittman. I trust him. And his laid-back, authoritative tone makes for good reading. Plus the app doesn’t require wireless to work.
Anyway, I used his “Simplest Dal” recipe as a guide.
And while I’m encouraged to play around with dal again, I haven’t mastered how to up the flavor. It didn’t have a great zing to it and at times tasted of tannins. Here’s what I did but please tell me what I should have done.
First Draft Dal
In a large pot I threw in 2 cups of udad dal split matpe beans, that have been washed and “picked through” or whatever that means, 2 tablespoons of minced ginger, 2 tablespoons of black mustard seeds, 2 tablespoons of methi seeds, 1 tablespoon of turmeric, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, 1.5 tablespoons of cumin, 1 tablespoon of curry powder and 3 chillies. I covered all of that with water, I think maybe 6 cups so that there is an inch of water over everything. Then I brought it to a boil and then lowered the heat, with the pot partially covered for almost 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. I tasted it. Bland. So I salted it, peppered it, plus added more water so as Bittman said, it’d be “saucy but not soupy.” Before serving I dumped in almost 2 tablespoons of butter. I was pleased with the consistency, but was not in love with the flavor. It was just kinda blah.