This mixed dal always reminds me of Autumn. It’s partly the earthy taste; partly the autumnal coloring (golden split chana dal with flecks of black urad dal).
And partly, it’s just that once October comes, I am yearning for comforting soups and stews, chilis and dals. This creamy, delicious dal is the perfect meal for a cool Autumn night.
This is a very popular Punjabi dish, and I’ve taken no liberties with it – except for giving it a more descriptive name!
Ingredients for October Gold and Black Dal:
2/3 Cup Split Chana Dal
1/3 Cup Whole Black Urad Dal
5 Cups Water
1/2 Teaspoon Turmeric
1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
1 Yellow Onion, diced
2-3 Thai Green Chili Peppers, diced as finely as possible
2 Teaspoons minced Garlic (about 4 cloves)
1 Tablespoon minced Ginger or Ginger Paste
2 Teaspoons Coriander
2 Roma Tomatoes, diced
1/2 – 1 Teaspoon Garam Masala
Directions for October Gold and Black Dal:
Measure 2/3 cup split chana dal onto a plate. Sort through the dal, looking for bits of debris, bad dal, or anything that shouldn’t be there.
Measure 1/3 cup whole urad dal onto a plate. Go through the dal carefully, as small stones are harder to spot.
Rinse the dal several times with cold water, then cover with water and soak for at least two hours. If you’re not using a pressure cooker, let the dal soak for four to six hours. Soaking helps the dal cook faster (whole urad dal takes forever to cook if you don’t soak it first). It also seems to help the dal retain its shape and become soft and creamy without falling apart.
Then add to the pressure cooker, along with the water, turmeric, and salt. Let the pressure cooker whistle once; then reduce the heat to medium-high and cook 15 minutes. (You could also cook this in a regular pot on the stove – you’ll probably need to add two extra cups of water and cook about 45 minutes.)
While the dal is cooking, heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and wait for them to splutter and pop.
Add the onions and chili peppers. Stir to coat in the oil, then let them cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Add the coriander and garam masala and mix so the spices coat the onions. Immediately add tomatoes and cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
By now the dal should be done. Release the pressure from the pressure cooker and open it. The dal should be soft and creamy, but still distinct. You don’t want the two dals to totally dissolve into each other.
Add the onion masala mixture to the pot with the dal and stir. Taste – you may need to add more salt, or more garam masala. Let the dal simmer on low heat for another five minutes or so to allow the flavors to fully blend.
Serve over basmati rice and enjoy!