Last weekend was fab! With temperatures soaring up to 28C, we went out for walks, had a lot of fruits and frappes, and sat down under the sun soaking ourselves well. Having said that, I did get a headache towards the end of it because it got a bit too hot. But it was worth it.
We also tried to squeeze in a visit to the community Gurudwara (Sikhs’ prayer place) on Sunday, but failed. S wanted to go there for a long time, says he likes the ambience and feeling there. Well, I only go there coz of the lovely food they offer. No kidding.
While growing up, my family used to visit Gurudwaras a lot. Not for food, but prayers silly! And my mum used to do “sewa” (serving people and temple voluntarily) for hours. In that time too, all I was interested was the food. Which was super tasty and of course free. Having dal and roti in the “langar” (buffet lunch) carried such a charm for us those days.
Anyway, so I have tried to recreate that kind of daal here. This can either be called Langar waali dal or Dal Banjari. I understand both have originated from different regions, Punjab (langar ki dal) and Rajasthan (dal banjara) respectively. But the basic recipe remains the same and hence I have merged the two in one post
Of course, there would be differences in spices and taste. But the method of cooking (simmered for long hours) and purpose (to serve masses of people) remain the same. Because of the “dumm” cooking method (simmering for long hours), the earthy flavours that churn out of this combo of the two lentils are just.. mmm.. unbelievable!
We use the whole Urad daal in this recipe, not the split or skinned one. The intense flavour of urad dal with its skin on is simply brilliant compared to the relatively bland de-skinned version. Together with chana dal and an assortment of spices, green chillies and onions, it transforms into a delicious dal that will make you lick your fingers! It is better to serve the Dal Banjari immediately on cooking, garnished with freshly chopped coriander, in order to retain the proper consistency. Over time, it has the tendency to thicken. But then you can have that with Lachha paratha for brunch next day, cant you?
Combination of lentils: Dal Makhni is made using a combination of 75% black urad dal and 25% rajma (red kidney beans). And it involves addition of cream or at least full fat milk so its definitely not vegan. On the other hand, Maa chhole ki daal has about 75% Chana daal and 25% split Urad dal. Whereas in Banjari dal, it’s about the opposite. That is, the quantity of Urad dal is more than that of Chana dal. And hence the taste and consistency are way different than Dal banjara.
Addition of tomatoes: Banjari daal has no tomatoes in it, which obviously cut down on a lot of sourness and brings a diverse taste. This is done so that the dal stays fresh for longer. Adding tomatoes make the curry/dish go bad in a few hours if not refrigerated.
Difference in spices: Dal Makhni and Maa chhole ki daal being proper Punjabi dishes, use strong spices like Garam Masala and anardana (Pomegranate seeds powder) etc. This langar wali dal typically doesn’t use these spices (although it also depends on local taste and chef) and is a much milder and earthy in taste.
Cooking time: Typically, this banjara dal is simmered for long time before serving so that it becomes thick. Since this type of dal is usually eaten with Roti rather than rice, thickness is a desired attribute here.
Let’s check out the recipe now.
What you need?
- 1 cup Sabut Urad Dal (Whole Black Gram )Lentils
- ½ cup Chana Dal (Split Yellow Bengal Gram)
- 1 large onion, chopped small
- 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 2 green chilies, finely chopped or minced
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 ½ tsp salt Or as per taste
- A small piece of cinnamon
- 3-4 cloves
- 2-3 dry red chilies
- 3 tbsp cooking oil (I used Ghee in this)
- Cilantro for garnishing, washed and chopped
How to make?
Rinse the lentils thoroughly and soak them in water for 2-3 hours. You may skip this step completely and cook them straight away but its going to take up more time to get cooked. Check notes if cooking in a pan*
Cook in a pressure cooker with 4 cups of water, 1 tsp salt and turmeric for about 4-5 whistles. Open when the pressure eases off and check if the lentils have cooked well enough. If not, cook till 1-2 more whistles. Check the consistency and add more water if required.
Heat oil (or ghee) in a heavy pan, and add all whole spices (cinnamon, cloves, dry red chili powder) into it. Fry for about a minute on low, then add green chilies and ginger-garlic paste. Sauté for about half a minute.
Add chopped onions and fry for a few minutes till they turn translucent. Add all the remaining spices, mix and cover the pan to allow cooking for another 2-3 minutes.
Next, pour this tempering onto the cooked lentils. Mix once, garnish with cilantro and serve hot with roti and pickle aside.
If you don’t have time for soaking lentils, you may add a pinch of baking soda in the pressure cooker with salt and turmeric. This will ensure that the lentils get cooked properly in less time.
This daal thickens up with time. When reheating, boil some water and add to the daal with salt if required.
If you would like to try more Gurudwara ka khana – you have to check this recipe for Whole wheat halwa (atte ka halwa) which is another speciality from the temple.
and this Punjabi Kadi Pakora which tastes best paired up with plain rice.