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Rajasthani Dal

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

Searching for a dal to go with baati is like seeking a suitable groom for the bride. Look no further. This Rajasthani dal is a fitting match.

They say marriages are made in heaven, I say this splendid pair is definitely made in Qitchenery. One can make plain dal or any other dal with Rajasthani Baati but why settle for ordinary when we can go for extraordinaire. This Rajasthani dal is not only full of proteins but is an explosion of flavour, spices, colour, and zing. All in one. And oh, how can I not mention the special spiced tadka for the dal. The masterstroke that takes dal to the peak of its glory.

Make this Rajasthani Dal with my Rajasthani Baati and you won't need any other accompaniment. This duo is a complete meal in itself with an everlasting taste. Trust me, if you have this dal with baati, you are never going back to any other dal.

All this talking is making me hungry and I can see you drooling too. So let's begin with the making.

Skip to recipe Rajasthani Dal or continue reading for tips and stages of making the recipe

Here are basic ingredients that are easily found in every (Q)kitchen to make Rajasthan's Dal.

Pigeon Peas lentil (Toor dal), Tomatoes, Onion, Garlic, Ginger, Coriander leaves, Curry leaves (Meetha Neem Patta), Whole dried Kashmiri Chillies, Clarified butter (Ghee), Mustard (Rai) Seeds, Cumin (Jeera) Seeds, Turmeric powder, Kashmiri chilli powder, Garam Masala, Asafoetida (Hing), salt.

Stages of Making - 4 Simple steps

1. Wash and boil lentils (dal)

Lentils can be boiled in 3 different ways. Over the stove, in a pressure cooker, or in a slow cooker. My preferred way is either slow cook (mostly) or pressure cook (if I am short on time).

Take measured lentil in a saucepan/cooker/slow cooker vessel, whichever one you prefer, and wash several times till water runs clear. Add the measured water to the washed dal and set it to boil. If using the stove method, then you need to add more water than stated in the recipe and boil lentils on medium flame until it is very soft (mashable). If using a pressure cooker, then pressure cook it on a medium flame for 3 whistles / 20 mins in a non-whistle/electric pressure cooker. If using a slow cooker, then slow cook on a high setting for 5 to 6 hours or on low setting for 8-9 hours. I have used the slow cook method in the pics below.

If you haven't tried slow cooking then you should try with toor dal. It tastes sooooo much better, sweeter and flavourful even without adding any masalas. Once you try it, you will fall in love with slow cooking..

2. Prepare base onion tomato masala

Grind onion, garlic, and ginger into a fine paste. Heat ghee in a large saucepan or wok. I have been taught by mum that any daal should always be cooked in ghee. I didn't understand the reason then but now when I have tried cooking dal in both, ghee and oil, I can see a big difference in the taste. Ghee definitely imparts amazing flavour. However, if you are not too fussed about the taste then you can always veganise this daal by replacing ghee with unflavoured oil.

When ghee is melted and hot, add Mustard (rai) seeds, Cumin (jeera) seeds, asafoetida (hing), and Turmeric powder. When the spices begin to splutter, add onion, ginger, garlic paste. Add a small amount of salt. This will help onions to sweat and cook faster. Stir well and cook on low to medium flame. Continue cooking until all water evaporates and onions turn translucent. Another key indicator to know when onions are done, is when ghee starts oozing out of onions.

In the meanwhile blend tomatoes into a puree. When onions are completely cooked add blended tomato puree to it. Stir and cook continuously on medium flame until all water evaporates. You will notice that initially, the mixture is liquidy and lighter in colour. Gradually, as it starts to lose water, it thickens and deepens in colour. You have to continue to stir and cook until you are left with thick onion tomato paste with ghee separating from it.

Do not cut short or rush the process of cooking onions and tomatoes or else you will have a raw taste to dal.

Now add turmeric powder, Kashmiri chilli powder, and garam masala to the cooked onion tomato puree. Mix and add water. Water will stop the spices from burning. Allow the mixture to simmer until you see little droplets of ghee floating on the top.

3. Blend, mix and simmer dal

Once the dal is boiled completely, blend it using a whisk or conventional wooden churner (ghotni). I like to blend the dal completely into smooth paste but some like to partially blend to keep some floating dal grains. It's totally your preference.

Once the base onion tomato masala has simmered, add blended dal to the masala and mix. Add more water if the consistency is too thick. Bring it to boil and then allow the dal to simmer on medium flame with occasional stirring for few more minutes. When ready pour it into the serving pot. Note: the more your simmer the dal the better the flavour develop.

4. Tempering (tadka) for dal

Any dal is incomplete without a tadka. In Rajasthani food, no dish is served without a final sizzling tadka on top, be it dal, kadhi, subji, or any curry. Tadka not only adds flavour but also a luscious colour, magnificent aroma, and glorious richness to the dish.

There is an interesting old saying in Rajasthan, the person who skimps on ghee tadka will skimp on everything in life. In short, the person is close-fisted. Well, we are not, right? So let us prepare our crackling tadka.

Heat up ghee in a small saucepan or tadka wok. Add Mustard (rai) seeds, Cumin (jeera) seeds, Asafoetida (hing), Turmeric powder, Kashmiri chilli powder, fresh curry (Neem) leaves, and dried whole Kashmiri chillies to hot ghee and be quick as you do not want to burn all the spices.

As soon as everything starts sizzling, immediately pour it over the cooked dal. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander leaves.

Final result

Wow!!! Doesn't this dal look spectacular especially with that fragrant spicy tempering? I can't wait to tuck in, crush freshly baked baati, mix in the delicious dal, and have a mouthful... ... ... ... slurp...

What are different ways to boil lentils with their pros and cons?

Lentils can be boiled in 3 different ways. Over the stove, in a pressure cooker, or in a slow cooker.

Stove Method: If using the stove method, then you need to add more water than stated in the recipe and boil lentils on medium flame until it is very soft (mashable). The pro is that you can control the level of softness of lentils. The drawback is that it requires more water, longer cooking time and you can't leave it unattended.

Pressure Cooker: If using a pressure cooker then cook lentils on a medium flame for 3 whistles / 20 mins in a silent whistle pressure cooker. A pressure cooker is a great invention that cooks the toughest food in a short time. It comes with a whistle to release pressure. In a conventional pressure cooker, it whistles loud which also works as an alarm clock reminding us when to turn the flames off while a modern pressure cooker's whistle doesn't make any sound. So one has to set a timer and turn the flames off or if it is an electrical pressure cooker then it turns off by itself at a set time. The benefit is that lentils cook faster while the downside is that the whistle releases a lot of vapours and makes a mess on the gas top, kitchen counter, and cooker lid.

Slow Cooker: If using a slow cooker, then slow cook lentils on a high setting for 5 to 6 hours or on a low setting for 8 to 9 hours. This is my personal favourite method to cook lentils cause the lentils cook to perfection and tastes amazing compared to other methods. You must try it yourself to experience a big flavour difference. The only downside is that this method requires a long time but if you are organised and have your meal planned then leave the lentils to cook in a slow cooker on a timer. It will be ready by the time you are ready for supper. Luckily I have a delay start setting in my slow cooker. So, what I used to do during my working days is that before leaving for work in the morning I washed lentils, added water, and set the delay start to start by12 pm for 5 hours. By the time I was back from work, the dal would be just freshly cooked. All that was left was to give a good tadka. Dal cooks while you are away with no monitoring required. Amazing isn't it? If your slow cooker doesn't have this setting then I have another hack for you. Get a timer plug. Plugin your slow cooker to it and set delay start-stop timing as per your schedule. Easy done.

Is there any other type of dal that goes with baati?

Any type of dal can be paired with baati. Right from plain dal to spicy masala dal, from a single type of dal to mixed dal. All goes well with baati. However, Rajasthani dal is the best combo.

Dal Options - Plain toor (Yellow split Pigeon peas) dal, Spicy toor (Yellow split Pigeon peas) dal, Moong (Split green gram lentils) dal, Urad (Split & skinned black gram), Channa (Split chickpeas) dal, a mix of 5 dal called panchmel dal.

Jain options?

You can certainly make this dal a Jain Rajasthani dal. All you need to do is skip onion ginger garlic paste and follow the rest of the steps in the recipe.

Vegan Option?

To make vegan Rajasthani dal, simply replace clarified butter (Ghee) with margarine or Vegan butter, or unflavoured oil.

Can tadka be made ahead of time?

A preferable option is to prepare tadka just before serving as it only takes a couple of minutes to make it. Never the less, you can prepare tadka ahead of time but make sure to add 1 tbsp of water to it to stop the spices from burning. Heat it up before pouring over dal.

Storage and Shelf life?

Leftover final dal can last up to 2-3 days in the refrigerator while in the freezer it lasts up to a month. However, if you want to freeze it then I would suggest you freeze the onion tomato masala in its roasted paste stage separately and blend boiled daal separately without any further addition of water in a freezer-safe airtight container to save space and increase the shelf life. Of course, both should cool down completely before packing them in containers. This way it will last for months in the freezer.

When ready to make, thaw both, masala and dal. Then continue cooking from the step when water is added to masala paste.

This is my all time favouite dal to go with baati but hey why don't you make it and give your verdict.

Recipe link below


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