Dal is easily one of the most soul-warming comfort foods to come out of the sub-continent. Our usual array of comfort foods in the UK come in the form of potato dishes, or soups, stews and other hearty meals that either ooze with cheese or are packed with starchy goodness; everything that speaks to our heart as well as our stomachs.
There is one common denominator with all our usual comfort foods: they’re winter dishes! Pretty much everyone’s comfort food is a dish you’ll find warming up our bellies in the midst of winter. Very few would turn to a salad to help sooth the soul.
Dal, on the other hand, is a comforting dish that can be eaten to both warm the cockles when outside is blowing a gale as well as eaten on a mild summer evening. There is something incredibly satisfying about a dal that has helped establish it as one of India’s most beloved dishes.
The key to a successful dal is time. Lentils are the basic ingredient in any dal, but they need to be given the care and attention they deserve in order to create the creaminess and the depth of flavour that dal is known for. This requires a long simmer, preferably around 90 minutes, in order to unlock the true potential of the lentil.
The recognisable creamy, soupy consistency of any dal is only achieved if lentils are well broken down. Soaking the lentils beforehand is also a great way of making sure that you achieve proper dal.
To complete a true dal the dish requires a fresh blend of spices known as the ‘tarka’, which are bloomed (fried) in oil or ghee butter until they sizzle. This makes them much more aromatic. They are then folded into the creamy pulses to finish.
Has the thought of dal gotten your taste buds tingling? Pull up at a table at Royal Nawaab’s Manchester or London restaurant this evening where you can try or authentic, slow cooked dal now.