November 27, 2012

Chana Dal Tahiri

In India, one of the best meals made by my mom, grandma and aunts was IMHO almost always some sort of rice pilaf. A one pot meal, made typically with white rice and a combination of vegetables (cauliflower, peas, green beans, carrots, potatoes) or one of a variety of lentils. A Tahiri  is a rice and lentil pilaf and is usually consumed with Indian Mango pickles or with raita, a savory cool concoction made with plain yogurt and spices.  It is perfect on a hot summer day ... when you don't want to sweat it out in a hot kitchen and its almost as perfect on a chilly winter afternoon, when you want the warm feeling of comfort food. Rich in carbohydrates and high in protein, and 100% fat-free, it is indeed the perfect comfort food :) !! My only concession, I made it with white rice instead of brown because that is how I've always eaten it and one doesn't mess with comfort food!

Chana Dal Tahiri
Prep Time: 15 min

  1. 1 cup White Rice
  2. 1/2 cup Chana Dal
  3. 3 cups Water
  4. 2 tsp Cumin seeds
  5. 1/4 tsp Asafoetida (optional)
  6. Salt and Pepper, to taste.
Add all ingredients to a pressure cooker and cook under high for 10 minutes. If using a stove-top pressure cooker, allow it to reach full pressure and the reduce heat to medium-low and maintain pressure for 5-7 minutes. Allow to stand for 5 minutes after and then release steam. Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper and spicy Indian pickles, or hot sauce, or hot salsa. This dish is rather bland so is great for those days when the stomach needs a rest :) and on other days, the hot salsa adds a nice kick to it!! Enjoy!

Stove Top (sans Pressure Cooker) Directions:
Soak the chana dal overnight, or for at least 3-4 hours in advance. Increase water to 4 cups (3x for rice* and 1x for dal, with some allowance for evaporation). Add all ingredients to a deep pan or dutch oven and bring the water to a boil. Once the water is at a rolling boil, turn heat to medium, to allow the contents to simmer slowly, without boiling over. Cover 90% with the lid (keeping the lid a tad askew helps!). Allow to simmer for ~10-12 min or so until the rice is tender (pre-soaked dal should cook at the same rate as rice). Turn off heat, and place lid on tight. Add a weight (a few cans of beans) to the lid and let sit for 5-7 min. This is the 'dum' phase - literally it means adding strength. What it does is allow all the flavors to blend, allows the rice to absorb any remaining water and the whole dish becomes fluffy. Enjoy!

* Depending upon the kind of rice (even basmati varieties vary amongst themselves), this may take a few trials before you get the water-rice ratio right! Don't sweat it, even if there is a tad too much water, this dish tastes good! 

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