Dal with rice or roti is a staple food in every Indian household. My childhood was no different and I’m carrying on the tradition with my family. Lentils are a tasty, nutritious item on a vegetarian dinner plate. Low in calories, and high in protein, calcium, fiber, lentils are versatile food to your diet. Many ways to transform lentils – dal, salads, spreads. Lentils cook much quicker than dried beans and do not need soaking before cooking. You will love this simple, easy, homespun weekday meal. Boost your dal by adding any greens or veggies to make it heart friendly, diabetic friendly. Lentils are a hassle-free addition to any meal with nutty and earthy in flavor. Lentils are available with or without the husk. The husk contains the highest amount of dietary fiber. Consuming lentils with husk adds taste and highest amount of dietary fiber content to your diet.
Malabar spinach or Indian spinach is not spinach at all. It doesn’t look or taste like spinach at all. Malabar spinach leaves are thick, fleshy. They cook very fast. Other than making lentils, you can sauté, make soups out of Malabar spinach. This dish called bachali kura pappu in Telugu.
In different areas of India, Malabar spinach is called
- pui shak in Bengali,
- poi ni bhaji in Gujarati,
- basale soppu in Kannada
- valchi bhaji, vauchi bhaji in Konkani
- vallicheera in Malayalam
- mayalu in Marathi
- kodip pasali in Tamil
- bachali kura in Telugu
- basale in Tulu.
Lentils are most often available dried and have an extremely long shelf life. Lentils are available throughout the year and are most economical. They can be stored for a long time without refrigeration. They are sold whole or split into halves. Dry lentils can be stored in airtight containers for years.
Dal is made with lentils, mixed in greens or vegetables. You can choose a variety of green and veggies to make Dal with. Lentils absorb flavors from greens, veggies, and seasonings, making it easy and tasty dish. They make a great meat substitute or side dish. Lentils are a powerhouse of nutrition. They are a good source of fiber, lean protein, folate and iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K.
Lentils are believed to be the first foods to cultivate. They were discovered and cultivated in the south and central Asia. History indicates they have been consumed since prehistoric times. India is a country whose traditional cuisine still revolves around lentil dish called dal. There are up to 50 varieties of lentils being cultivated. Most of us are familiar with green or brown lentils. Buty they are also available in black, yellow, red and orange colors.
What are lentils?
Lentils are a small, round, legumes. Colors range from yellow and red to green, brown, and even black.
How to cook lentils?
- Depending on the variety you are cooking and whether they are whole or split lentils, cooking varies.
- Whole lentils require longer cooking time. If you are cooking in a pot with water, it may take up to an hour and a half to cook.
- Using pressure cooker drastically reduces the cooking time of lentils.
- Whole Toor dal, Channa dal (split pigeon peas) are round and biggest lentils of all. In a pressure cooker, they need – 15-20 minutes of cooking time. In a pot, it will take – 1 1/2 hr of cooking time.
- Split moong dal requires lowest cooking time. Up to 15 minutes. Moong dal is oval in shape and smallest of all. Do not cook split moong dal in pressure cooker. It will become mushy.
Where can you buy lentils?
Moong dal can be found in India grocery stores, Amazon, online mill stores. Malabar spinach is seasonally available in Indian grocery stores or local markets
- 1 cup - split, moong dal with skin
- 1 cup - Malabar spinach -
- 3 tbsp - healthy oil as coconut or olive oil.
- 1 small onion or spring onion
- ¼ Tsp cumin
- ¼ Tsp black mustard seeds
- ⅕th Tsp pure turmeric powder
- 8-10 curry leaves
- ¼ Tsp ginger garlic paste - optional
- Salt preferable pink Himalayan salt
- 5-10 red chilies
- 3-4 green chilies optional
- Wash lentils. Wash and cut Malabar spinach. Discard hard, thick stems and flower buds.
- Add 2 cups of water to 1 cup of moong lentils. Add green chiles (if using), diced onion to lentils. Cook in a pot for 15 minutes on medium heat. Don't cook till mushy. After cooking lentils should still be in their shape. Add water if needed. Turn off the stove. Add salt.
- Now prepare for tampering.
- Add oil to a small tampering Kadai. Heat to medium. Add red chilies. Cook until brown.
- Add mustard seeds. When they stop spluttering, add cumin. Cook until golden brown.
- Add curry leaves. When they stop spluttering, add turmeric, ginger garlic paste.
- Pour hot oil tampering to dal.
- Top with chopped cilantro.
- Serve hot with fresh roti, brown rice or quinoa.
- Serve with rasam and rice instead.