The pigeon pea is also known as Toor dall or Tuvar, Congo pea or Gungo pea. In India, split pigeon peas (toor dall) are one of the most popular pulses, being an important source of protein in a mostly vegetarian diet. In Gujarat, the tuvar dall is used to make a fairly thin dall, which looks like spicy soup, and is eaten with plain basmati rice. Traditionally, you are served a thali which will have chappatis, curry, salad, papad, pickles and sweet with a glass of chass/lassi. The dall may be served on its own to be eaten with the main course. Rice is often served hot as a second course with hot toor dall and yogurt. The dall is usually made hot and spicy together with a sweet and sour taste fragranced with fresh curry leaves and coriander.
You can also add a vegetable called saragwa ni sing (drumsticks) to the Dall. To prepare the drumsticks cut them into manageable lengths of a couple of inches, remove some of the outer hard fibres of the sticks to expose the inner soft layer. The drumsticks get cooked with the dall. The best way to eat the drum sticks is to split them in half, dip them in the dall and eat the inner flesh and seeds and the outer tougher skin is left on the side of your plate.
Dry Kokum (http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/kokum.html) is also added to the dall. It’s used as a garnish as it has a slightly sour taste. Although served with the dall, kokum is not eaten but left on the side of your plate.
The addition of curry leaves adds a fragrance to the Dall which is out of this World. Most Indian fruit and vegetable stores sell these.
One cup Tuvar dall
One tablespoon mungdall (Add this if you like your dall to be of nice and thick consistency)
2 cups of crushed tomatoes (or 2 cups of Passata or 5-6 fresh ripe tomatoes blanched and blended)
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 tablespoon oil
1 small cinnamon stick (1 inch or less)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
3-4 green chillies - sliced in the middle (or less –depending on taste)
1 teaspoon crushed ginger
Small bunch of coriander
A dozen fresh curry leaves ( don’t worry if you can't get these)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice ( ready made juice is fine too)
1 tablespoon jaggery (gor) ( you can use sugar if you can’t get jaggery)
Handful of raw peanuts
1 heaped tablespoon dall masala ( Optional -I recommend you have this in your spice rack. This is available in most Indian stores. It’s a mixture made up of several spices such as Salt, Yellow Pepper, Black Pepper, Cumin Seed, Coriander, Dry Ginger, Amchur, Clove, Peppel, Cinnamon, Asafetida, Nutmeg, Large Cardamom, Black Salt)
Drumsticks (optional nice to have ingredient)
Kokum (optional nice to have ingredient)
1. Wash the toor and mung dall in warm water. (I called mung dall the cheat ingredient as cooking the two together gives a dall a lovely flavour. At the same time, it will help the dall have the same consistency. Difficult how to explain this. Most toor dall once cooked tends to separate into dall at the bottom and water at the top when you let it cool. By adding the mung dall, the dall will remain the same consistency. This is a tip which was passed to me by chefs who cater for Indian weddings and I am passing it on to you).
2. Boil the dall. If using a pressure cooker – add 6 cups of water. Cook until the whistle sounds, lower the heat and let it cook for 5 more minutes and allow the pressure cooker to cool. If cooking in a saucepan, add 6 cups of water and allow it to cook until the dall gets cooked. You may need top add more water if the dall isn't cooking too fast. Gujarati house wives are very particular on where they but their toor dall and will not buy some makes as they take too long to cook.
3. Whilst the dall is cooking, prepare the tempering (vaghar stuff) for the dall. Blend the tomatoes. If using fresh tomatoes, prick them and slightly boil them to remove the skin and blend them. Add the salt, turmeric, sliced green chillies, crushed ginger, sugar, tomato puree, lemon, peanuts (drumsticks and kokum if available) to the crushed tomatoes.
4. Once the dall is cooked, blend it well using a blender. Tip: If using a pressure cooker, make sure that the cooker has cooled down, slowly reduce the air pressure and then open the lid.
5. In a fresh saucepan, heat the oil. Add the cumin seeds, cloves and cinnamon stick to the oil. Allow the cumin seeds to go brown and add the crushed tomato mixture to the oil and stir it well.
6. Now add the blended dall to the mixture. My family like the dall to look like the dall served at Indian weddings so I don't make it too thin. Each family has their own tastes and you can adjust this to suit your. Feel free to add some boiled water to the dall if you like your dall to be of a thinner consistency.
7. Add the fresh coriander and curry leaves to the mixture. Once this starts to simmer, add the dall masala if you have it.
8. Keep simmering this dall for as long as you can. The longer you simmer the dall, the better it will look and taste.
9. Here are some of the dishes that could be served in a Gujarati home.
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