November 2, 2012

Panchmel dal

Panchmel dal is a staple from Rajasthan (Western India) that celebrates the exquisite mingle of five different kinds of lentils in a simple and flavorful dish. Panch meaning five and mel meaning mix thus is the mixture of five staple Indian lentils – masoor (red lintils), moong (green gram), chola (Bengal gram), toor (pigeon peas), urad (black lentils). Tomato and ginger are add to the flavors, whereas the tamarind and dried mango powder play with the taste buds giving a hint of tartness. The perfect balance of salt-sugar –chili seals the deal. For quite a while I was planning to make this and had finally put it in the list of ‘to cook’ for the festive seasons. It was only after that the whole menu for the festive days was planned that I realized I had placed the Panchmel dal for the 5th day of the festive fortnight! As I washed the lentils and covered them with water for soaking, the aromas of each lentil blended into this tempting earthy smell. I was excited and looking forward to the harmony of flavors it that the lentil medley would create. A simple and colorful play of delicate rustic flavors it was, and a great beginning of the Durga puja.

You can print the recipe for your kitchen here: PRINTABLE RECIPE

(Serves 6)

1/3cup cholar dal (split Bengal gram or chana dal)
1/3cup toor dal (split pigeon pea)
1/3cup moong dal (split green gram)
1/3cup urad dal (split black lentils)
1/3cup whole masoor (split red lentils)
1tbsp whole moong (whole green gram)
1/2sp turmeric powder
1/2sp chili powder
1sp coriander powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1tbsp ginger paste
3 green chilies – paste
1 tomato – chopped
2sp amchur (dried mango powder)
4tbsp tamarind pulp
3tbsp ghee
salt, sugar
Dry spices:
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2 bayleaves
1sp cumin seeds
2 dried red chilies broken
1 pinch of asafetida

1.      Wash the lentils well and soak them in three cups of water for around two hours. Boil them in the same water with salt and a pinch turmeric powder until done.
2.      Mix the chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, garam masala with 3 tbsp of water and mix well to make the masala paste.
3.      Heat the ghee in a pan and add dry spices. When they crackle, add ginger and chili paste and the masala paste. Saut√© for 1-2 minutes.
4.      Add chopped tomatoes and cook till the spices leave oil on sides.
5.      Add the cooked lentils, amchur, tamarind pulp and salt, sugar and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Adjust the seasoning and the consistency of the lentils before serving.

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