Thursday, 1 December 2016

Aamti ni Daar (Pigeon Lentils spiced with jaggery and tamarind paste)

May we all please take just a moment to drive home, assimilate and accept the fact that it is DECEMBER!!, I mean didn't the year just start? where did all those months schmooze past? where?. Is it time for cheer and merry making already, wasn't I just sulking over getting down my Christmas tree?... Okay, hang on, it means I get to put it up again, yay!!, sorry I cant help it, December does that to me.

Now since I've (kinda) accepted that Mr D is here now, it also means that I will now transform into a bakezilla, I will bake in the morn, I will bake in the evening, I will do so till every noon turns to night, but before I turn my tiny ole oven into an Indian currency printing mint that runs at full capacity and before I morph my home into a specialty candle selling retail outlet at the mall (for that is how it will smell given all the ginger, vanilla and cinnamon that goes into making Christmassy goodies) I want to share with you today a crazy simple recipe, that of this Aamti ni Daar or thick lentil soup spiced with tamarind paste and jaggery.

Daal, Dal or what we Parsis call Daar is a staple in every Indian household, its an inseparable part of Indian food and is to us Indians what wine is to Britons - there are no two ways about it.

Made with uncountable number of lentils and in innumerable ways by each and every household, Dal is frugal, homely, soul soothing and comforting.

The Parsi community is well known for its lip smacking food and dishes like Dhansakh (a rich preparation of two to four types of lentils with vegetables and meat) and Dhun Daar (made of golden pigeon pea lentils to a thick soup consistency and drizzled with garlic flakes tossed in clarified butter) have amassed a cult following for themselves.

Today's recipe however is delicious makeover of the humble Dhun Daar. Not many Parsis know of its existence and honestly I didn't either, but that changed one nippy night when I paid a visit to an old neighbour and she asked me to try this Dhansakh like looking Daar, "Try it she said, its not Dhansakh ni Daar...", so I did and was hooked at first slurp and promptly jotted down the recipe for the same.

Holding the holy trinity of khattu, miththu and tikkhu remember this Sali Boti or this Kolmi no Patio or these Marghi na Ras Chawal? of Parsi cooking in place, this comforting Daar makes a great meal for one or more than one on days that you're not particularly in the mood for anything close to a feast.

Read on for the recipe.

Serves 2

You will need:

50 gms Toor dal (pigeon pea lentils)
1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
1/2 tsp imli (tamarind) paste
1/2 tsp gud (jaggery)- powdered or cut in small pieces
1/4 tsp garam masala powder
1/4 tsp red chilly powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsps ghee (clarified butter)
Salt to taste
2 tsps coriander leaves to garnish


Start by soaking the lentils in water for at least an hour (this doesn't only hasten the cooking but also eases digestion)

Next either in a small pot or a small pressure cooker cook the lentils for 2 whistles followed by 10 mins on a low flame.

Once done, mash the lentils in a regular or handheld blender into a thick but pour able consistency (remove excess water else the daar will be very runny- we don't want it runny) and keep aside.

In a small pan now heat some ghee, one hot add in the cumin seeds and allow them to pop, next add in sliced garlic and saute till it turns golden in colour, now add in all the dry spices and cook on a low flame, be carful to not burn the spices.

Now add in the mashed lentils into the pan along with jaggery and tamarind paste.

Add in salt and water if required.

Allow to bubble up once and keep stiring in between.

Finally add in chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with a bowl of rice or chapattis.


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