By Luisa Gardin
It was on Sunday. The first time that I tasted the black dal here in Ashram, it was on Sunday. A true love was born.
I ate two catori and a half, Erika four. We were telling each other that probably we will have some problems with our belly. But the dal was so good….
First, my eyes! I knew what Dal was from before. I had already eaten it in Indian restaurants in Italy. But not this. It looked so creamy and curious that salivary glands started their craving.
Then the smell. The fragrance of garlic was sneaking from the catori, not unnoticed. It was familiar originally, but travelled with friends like Cumin and Coriander, and together they were making a great team right under my nose from inside the hot catori. Such a promise!
Finally, the texture – a smooth cream with gentle oil and garlic, noticeable lentils, and al dente tomato that seemed to join the party late. In my mouth, the fragrant spices seemed more the foundation upon which the lentils stood, in contrast to the veil they had offered at first.
That Dal was so good…
After that Sunday I have tasted yellow dal, mixed vegetable dal, red dal and even an “emergency dal” cooked in a hurry because in the kitchen there wasn’t any water. I was so happy for that problem in the kitchen….
Today I cooked with Papu, the ashram’s chef of six years, a mix vegetable dal with many different kinds of lentils- Guru Ji’ s favorite.
Here there is the recipe for 5-6 people. Be careful, the quantities of ingredients are not precise at all. The secret ingredient is the awareness of cooking it, not the mg of salt. Perfect yogic cooking style!
Spinaches 200 gr
Onions 300 gr
Tomato 400 gr
Masur dal 100 ml (easy to find even in the western country)
Chana dal 200 ml
Moth mogar 50 ml
Mung dal 100 ml
Probably in Western countries, we can find all these kinds of Dal in an Indian shop. I hope strongly!! But Papu explained that the procedure for Black Dal is the same as the lentils, used in Ashram. These are easy to find. They are the big and dark brown kind.
Ginger 1 root
Fresh Coriander 1 handful
Cumin 1 pinch
Mustard seeds 1pinch
Hing 1 small pinch (this could be a problem to find in a Western Country!)
Salt 1 teaspoon
Turmeric 1 not complete teaspoon
Coriander powder 2 teaspoon
Chili 1 teaspoon
- Mix the different kinds of dal and wash them. Put in a pan with 2 liters of water. Boil the dal with a little oil for 30 minutes with low heat.
- Remove the stem of the spinaches, wash and cut them.
- Remove the skin of the onions and cut them in small pieces and do the same for the ginger.
- Wash the tomatoes and cut them in small pieces.
- Now chop onions and ginger with some teaspoons of water into the mixer until they will become a cream.
- When the dal is ready, remove the pan from the heat.
- Put some oil in another one, when it is hot enough (the secret is throwing inside some cumin seeds and checking if they sizzle!!) add cumin, mustard seeds, hing with a little of water with the cream of onions and ginger.
- Wait 3 minutes before adding salt, turmeric, chili and coriander powder.
- After 3-4 minutes add 700 ml of water and boil for other 3 minutes.
- Now it’s ready to add the spinache and the tomatoes.
- After 2 minutes add the fresh coriander
The Dal is ready!
Papu advised me: “Cover it, cover it immediately!” Otherwise the perfumes of the spices will escape from the Dal. And I thought “No, please no!!”
During the lunch while I was eating the Mixed Vegetables Dal, I noticed that the Ginger gave a great taste to the Dal. Until today I didn’t like very much Ginger. I always associated Ginger’ s taste to the smell of some detergents. But now I’ve changed my mind. I told myself that it’s ok in this way. I didn’t come from the other part of the world to stay still and immovable on my convictions.
Enjoy your Dal….