Some years ago, my sweetie got this delightful cookbook called “Flavors of India” that includes a ton of delicious, simple, and vegetarian Indian dishes. It was a household staple for years, particularly because it made healthy *and* cheap food that lasted for days.
Then, it got destroyed.
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, it wasn’t lost forever. My sweetie got another copy and we’ve continued to use that one (and keep it safe) for many more years now, and it’s still as much of a treasure.
One of my favorites — but one I hadn’t yet made myself — is dal-dhokali, or toor dal (lentils) with chick-pea flour dumplings. It’s also, dare I say, vegan, so it’s mostly healthy (there’s some oil in the dumplings) but still very flavorful.
It’s not necessarily a quick weeknight meal but it is a lot of passive time so put on a movie favorite or catch up on your podcasts while you make this simple dish.
Here’s what I did, following the recipe other than increasing the spice amounts:
For the dal
- 1 c. toor dal (split pigeon peas), or any dried split pea or lentil if toor dal is hard to find in your area
- 10 c. water (yes, it sounds like a lot, but it’s works)
- 1 ½ t. salt
- 1 t. turmeric
- 1 t. coriander powder
- 1 t. cumin
- ½ T. grated ginger
- 1 T. tamarind concentrate, or if it’s hard to find in your area, the cookbook suggests using a tablespoon of lemon juice and a teaspoon of sugar in its pace (which given its tart/sour flavor, it seems appropriate)
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 1 T. oil
- 1 T. black mustard seeds
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 dried hot peppers, I used chile de arbol
- Cooked rice, for serving
For the dumplings
- ¼ c. chick pea flour (besan)
- ¼ c. whole wheat flour
- 1 T. oil, plus more for mixing
- ¼ t. salt
- 2 pinches cayenne
- 5 to 7 t. water, more as needed to make dough
Wash and rinse the dal, rubbing it in your hands to remove the oily coating, while bringing the Dutch oven full of the 10 c. water to a boil with the salt.
Once the water is boiling, add the dal and return to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium-high, and cook the dal uncovered for 10 minutes. Then, reduce heat and cook, covered, for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, make the dumplings. Mix together the two flours with your hands; add the salt, cayenne, and vegetable oil. Crumble the mixture together in your hands. Add 5 t. of water and continue to mix with your hands or a fork until a dough begins to form, adding more water a teaspoon at a time as necessary. Imagine making a pie crust and get it to that consistency. Once ready, set aside.
After the 30 minutes has passed, add the spices, ginger, and tamarind (or substitute) to the dal mixture, and simmer another 10 minutes, uncovered, while you roll out the dumpling dough.
To ready the dough, use oil instead of flour to keep the mixture from sticking. Add a small amount to your hands and knead for a few minutes in your hands until smooth. Add small amounts of oil to the rolling surface and rolling pin, and begin to roll out the dough, again, like a pie crust. Roll until thin like a plate (how the cookbook describes it), about ¼ inch. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut into 1 inch squares.
Add the dough a few at a time, to ensure they do not stick together, and stir to separate.
Add the tomato, and continue to simmer while preparing the final spice addition.
In a small saucepan or frying pan, heat a tablespoon of oil, and add the mustard seeds, whole cloves, and hot pepper (broken into pieces). As the oil heats, the mustard seeds will pop. Once they stop popping, about 1 to 2 minutes later, remove from heat, and dump the contents (with the oil) to the Dutch oven.
Stir the dal mixture together a few more times, and then cover the Dutch oven once more, and cook for another 20 minutes on low heat, stirring about every 5 minutes so that the dumplings do not stick. Once the dumplings are softened, serve with rice, and enjoy!