I have never been a fan of the food which combines the sweet and sour taste together. I don’t dip my Dhoklas in sugar syrup, I don’t add jaggery to Rasams, no sugar in my Raitas and I don’t even like the sweet and sour farsan/namkeen mixture. So when I was invited to a Gujarati friend’s house for a get together, I must admit I did feel a bit edgy. I didn’t want her to be upset, and she was super excited about planning the traditional Gujju meal for us.
When we reached at her place, she had planned a proper feast with 5 courses and everything looked so tempting and colourful. A major part of my qualms vanished right away when I saw that she hasn’t prepared Dhokla. She had got Khandvi instead which was amah-zing! My hunger had started bubbling up by the time she served main course. Which was – Undhio with Surati dal, thepla and rice. Now I was stuck! Since I knew she must have put some jaggery in Daal and there are no escapes now.
The moment I had a spoonful with some rice, I found myself totally dumbstruck. Dal was terrific in taste and texture! It was sweet-ish, and surprisingly, I loved the flavour. And the addition of peanuts was giving that extra bite to the whole dish. I had never had whole peanuts in any sort of curry before than that. Now I had to ask her the recipe, which I did later. And then tried it a few weeks ago, keeping the quantity of jaggery a tad bit less than what she used. Needless to say, the result was absolutely perfect, and suited my taste. I learnt that this is a traditional Surati Daal, which is being prepared a bit runny with peanuts added. Adding peanuts also contribute towards enhancing the protein content of the dish and since peanuts are being pressure cooked with the lentil, they are easily digested. This is a no onion no garlic recipe, and has a runny consistency hence pairs very well with rice and even goes well with chapatis or rotis.
If you haven’t tried this version of Gujarati Dal, you definitely are missing something. And as for me- I still hate combining the two flavours, but in this case it works fine for me 🙂
What you need?
- ¾ cup Pigeon pea lentils (arhar/toor/tuvar dal)
- 2 medium size tomatoes, diced
- 1 green chili, chopped small
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp red chili powder
- 2 tbsp. roasted peanuts ( I was a little sceptical, so I had taken the pre roasted ones, not sure how will that turn out with the unroasted variety)
- A handful of curry leaves, washed and chopped finely
- ½ inch ginger, grated
- A tiny piece of jaggery (gur), OR 1 tsp of jaggery powder
- Juice squeezed out of a lemon – about 1 tbsp.
- salt as per the taste
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- A pinch of asafoetida (hing)
- 2 tbsp oil or ghee
- 1-2 dry red chilies
How to make?
- Rinse and wash lentils thoroughly, and soak for 20-25 minutes. Drain and pressure cook with chopped tomatoes, salt and turmeric for 2 whistles. Daal should be completely cooked with enough water, around 3 cups so that its not too thick.
- Add the peanuts, green chilies, curry leaves, red chili powder, ginger and jaggery to the daal.
- Bring this mixture to a boil and then simmer for 7-10 minutes. Check and adjust the seasoning and add more water if required.
In the meanwhile-
- Heat oil in a tadka pan, add mustard seeds and let them pop up.
- Add asafoetida (hing) and fry for 15-20 seconds. Add in dried red chilies, and fry on low flame for another 15-20 seconds taking care not to burn them.
- Pour this ready tadka on top of the cooked Daal and stir to mix.
- Simmer daal for a further 5 minutes. Add lemon juice and mix. Turn off the flame.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro (coriander leaves) and serve hot with rice or roti.
- Adjust the spice level as per your preference. Traditionally, its not very spicy and hence I have kept it low.
- The consistency of the surati dal is usually thin, but adjust as per your taste.
- Like I said above, I used roasted peanuts. But my friend used raw un roasted variety and pressure cooked it with Daal. You may use any which way to make it, I like it better when its pre-roasted, so there is no chance of having them under cooked.
- You may also add a tsp. of sugar instead of jaggery or skip it altogether. I loved this hint of sweetness in the, and that’s the way I always keep it now.
- I once made it with onions. What I did was – sliced onions think lengthwise and then add to the daal with the tomatoes, and then pressure cooked. It brought out a nice flavour, you may try if you like onions
For some more recipes for Vegan lentil curries; check these out: