Monday, April 20, 2009

Mixed Dhal/ Five- Lentil Soup

I used to 'follow the book' in making dhal, and stuck generally to making dhal curry with toor dhal and minor adjustments, as in my dhal curry with a kick! recipe. However, one day, I opened the cupboard and realized the toor dhal supply would make less than one serving, so I suddenly wondered what would dhal taste like if I mix different ones together. Of course, different dhals do take different cooking time to get the same softness, but the fun of mixing different ones with the same cooking time is that the end product has different textures and softness levels. It's very nice. I also wondered for past few days what to use whole urad for. I had asked my friend Radha, who suggested Dhal Maharani, and my friend, Vidhya who recommended placing it in adai. I want to try those, but on the fly, I have created the below. It turned out to be very tasty!


1/4 cup toor dhal
1/8 cup following: val dhal, moong dhal, masoor dhal, whole urad dhal (with black coverings)*
1/8-1/4 cup coarsely diced tomatoes (roughly 1/2 a medium sized tomato)
1/8 cup diced bell pepper (capsicum) - red, green, yellow, orange
1/8 cup diced onion
4 tbspn dried methi (fenugreek) leaves (optional)

Add spices of your choice. I like to put 2-3 tbspn of Shan Dal Curry Mix (Masala), along with salt as per taste.

-or- Spices of your choice! Make it fun and exciting with your own spice ideas.

1. Place all dhals in a pan and rinse with water. Feel with fingers to assure no small stones or other unwanted small things are left from packaging from store.
2. Place this plus 2.5 cups water in a pan. Put on medium heat on the stove.
3. Dice vegetables and place in water. (Alternatively, if you want oil taste in the dhal, you can heat oil in another pan, temper the veggies in the oil, and place in the dhal.)
4. Add the dhal curry mix and 1/4 tsp salt.
5. Let boil one medium for about 20 minutes.
6. Add the fenugreek leaves if you have them. This is not necesary, just for additional color and texture. One of the other reasons I like to add fenugreek leaves is because it is said one property of fenugreek is to help with blood circulation. Dhal is a comfort food. Comfort foods make you feel lethargic, lazy and wanting to rest. Adding fenugreek can balance out this effect for some. It does for me!
7. Keep on medium for another 20 minutes. Taste for salt and the curry mix. Add more of salt or curry mix as per your taste.
8. It will be done when: masoor dhal has disintegrated - this dhal will dissolve and you will not see 'pieces of it,' toor dhal appears mashed, moong dhal will be mostly dissolved but some small pieces remain, val dal is a bit soft/hard but not crunchy, and whole urad will be soft inside and a little hard on outside. All dhals will be chewable and not hard or crunchy on the teeth.

Total cooking time - between 45-60 minutes. Low need for maintaining throughout. It is recommended to get up and stir it every 10 minutes. Because I cook it uncovered, water will naturally evaporate out, so take care to add more water- about 1/2 cup as it dries out - as required. Some people like it more dry, and others, like me, like it more watery, or soupy.

Serves - 4-6

Eat with rice. Eat with roti/chapati. Or, eat plain like soup. I actually like to eat dahl the 'American way' like soup sometimes, plain, with croutons, or with yogurt (dahi, thayyir) mixed in! YUM!! Enjoy how you prefer!!

*Some recommend soaking urad dhal separately in water for about two hours before placing in cooking pot to get more softness. This can be done, along with val dhal as these both are a bit more hard if cooked all at the same time as others. However, I like that variety, so for me cooking all at once is totally preferred!

This post is labelled 'low fat' as it can be made without oil or butter!

Related Posts/Links:
Adai - Multi Lentil Pancake (without urad dhal)
dhal curry with a kick!