This is a useful and very cheap recipe taken from the huge compendium of Indian vegetarian cookery, the beautifully named Lord Krishna’s Cuisine, by Yumana Devi. It’s a vast encyclopedia of all aspects of Indian cookery, which I love exploring. My only difficulty is that the book is written for an American audience with American ingredients, so not only weights but also matters such as soaking times, vary. For this reason, my version of one of the recipes is altered to reflect the kind of ingredients on the shelves in English shops.
These quantities make enough for 4-6 people, however it keeps well and also freezes. We ate this with tomato paneer and naan (also in the picture below).
For the dal
135g yellow split peas
1 medium sized squash or pumpkin, peeled and deseeded and cut into 2cm cubes.
1.5l of water (although I don’t generally use it all)
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger root
1-2 hot green chillies (according to taste)
1 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp turmeric
For the oil mix
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 dried red chilli (optional)
1/4 tspn yellow asafoetida
6-7 small curry leaves
2 tbsps fresh coriander
Place the dal, pumpkin or squash, ginger, green chilli, lemon juice, pay, turmeric and 1/2 tablespoon of butter and enough water to cover (plus around 1cm) in a large heavy saucepan. Stirring frequently bring to a full boil over a high heat and then simmer fr around 40 minutes until the dal is soft and fully cooked. You may need to add more water if it starts to look dry. Remove from the hat, pick out the bay leaf and add the salt. Whisk if desired to make smooth, although I quite like it lumpy.
Heat the remaining butter (plus a dash of olive oil to stop it browning) in a small pan over a medium heat. When hot stir in the cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, black mustard seed, chilli (if using) and sugar in rapid succession. Stir fry until the sugar caramalises and turns a rich reddish-brown Remove the pan from the heat, drop in the asafoetida and curry leave and after a couple of seconds pour over the dal. Cover and allow the spices to soak into the hot dal for a couple of minutes. Add the minced coriander and serve.