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Dal Muradabadi

I was in Gurgoan recently and my brother introduced me to dal Muradabadi. It was a dal that I was not aware of and one that I loved. So of course I have to bring this recipe to my blog.

Muradabad is located East of New Delhi in the state of Uttar Pradesh. From an edible historical perspective, it is the city that gave North India the raw onion sprinkle on cooked food and the famed Moradabadi chaat masala that is used liberally today. Emperor Shah Jahan developed Moradabad because of the cooper workmanship in the region. His son, Murad, was under the guidance of Jodha Bhai who instilled in him a love for vegetarian food that is a far cry away from the meat-heavy Mughal cuisine. He in particular loved this dal, and so this became a staple in the kitchen and within the community. The dal has now spread far and wide and it is one of those unique dals of India.

Bhuknu masala was also new to me. It is an old, traditional recipe and the word means "to grind". It is a bright masala with sour-earthy notes. It originated in the city of Kanpur and gets its name from how the spice mix is ground and prepared. It can be used as a topping adding lots of notes to a dish.

The dal is simple, long-cooked yellow mung lentils that are spiced with ginger and green chillies. It is the chaat toppings that make this dal supreme. On the occasion I had this dal, it was served plain with a crisp fried biscuit, adding a wonderful texture to the dal. Today I am following a more elaborate recipe that completes the dal with chaat toppings. I used onions, tomatoes, sweet tamarind chutney, spicy cilantro chutney, puffed rice, fried moong dal, black salt, and bukhnu masala. The dal becomes full of textures, complex and loaded with diverse flavours, sweet, spicy and complex. I serve this in a small bowl so that each guest can top up their bowl as they may please. It was a dal that was unique in its presentation and one that I loved.

The Indian Accent cookbook is from a well-rated and reviewed restaurant in Delhi and New York. It has found a place in the Top 100 restaurants in the world for its creative contemporary Indian cuisine. I have had the pleasure of dining here and the restaurant is an excellent dining experience. However, the cookbook is for advanced chefs mainly because of the ingredients and plating techniques. As can be expected from a book of this calibre, the recipes are excellent. For more recipes from this cookbook, click here.



Ingredients:

1/2 cup split yellow moong dal

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

8 cups water

Salt, to taste


1 tablespoon ghee

2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

Pinch asafoetida powder

1 tablespoon ginger paste

4-5 green chillies, chopped into fine circles

3 whole cloves

1 teaspoon black salt

Water, as needed


To garnish:

Use any or all of the following:

2 tablespoon tamarind chutney, or commercial

2 tablespoons spicy cilantro chutney, or commercial

2 tablespoons onions, finely chopped

Lime juice

2 tablespoons tomatoes, finely chopped

2 tablespoons fried moong dal or fried chana dal, from a packet

A generous sprinkling of bukhnu masala, a commercial packet is ok

Cilantro, minced

Sev

Masala chana

Puffed rice


Heat the dal, turmeric, and salt in a pot with the water and bring to a boil. Scoop off the scum and simmer for 1 hour till the lentils are completely broken down. You can also pressure cook the lentils if desired. Some variations like to purée the lentils for a smoother dal, but I prefer to keep them with a slight texture.


Heat the ghee and oil in a small pan and add the cumin seeds. Sauté for 30 seconds and add the asafoetida. Stir in and immediately add the ginger, and green chillies, followed by the cloves and black salt. Stir for 1 minute and add the temper to the dal and mix in well. taste and adjust for salt and chilli.


To serve, heat the dal and serve in a deep bowl. Top with all the toppings layered decoratively.

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