Mixed legumes cooked with whole spices and fresh fenugreek, topped with a rich ghee-garlic tadka. Panchmel Dal is one of those rare dishes that are complex and, at the same time, comforting.
To make panchmel dal (literally, “five-blend” dal), I take equal quantities of these five legumes: toor dal, masoor dal, yellow moong, chana dal, white urad dal.
Feel free to change things up – vary the proportions, use black urad in place of white, add a dash of green moong. This is a flexible, forgiving recipe – do what you will, it tastes delicious anyway!
[For 3-4 servings]
For the five-legume mix:
- Toor dal – 1/5 cup [buy here]
- Chana dal – 1/5 cup [buy here]
- Moong dal – 1/5 cup [buy here]
- Masoor dal – 1/5 cup [buy here]
- Urad dal – 1/5 cup [buy here]
For the masala:
- Tomatoes – 2 medium
- Fenugreek leaves* – 50 grams
- Ginger – 1-inch stick
- Green chili -1, slit vertically
- Salt – 1/2 teaspoon or to taste
- Red chili powder – 1/4 teaspoon [buy here]
- Turmeric powder – 1/4 teaspoon [buy here]
- Coriander seeds – 1 teaspoon [buy here]
- Green cardamom – 1 [buy here]
- Cinnamon – 1-inch stick [buy here]
- Cloves – 3 [buy here]
- Cumin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon [buy here]
- Oil – 1/2 tablespoon
*If fresh fenugreek is not available, replace with a tablespoon of kasoori methi.
For the tadka:
- Dry red chilies – 2, broken
- Garlic – ~1 teaspoon, finely chopped
- Ghee – 1 tablespoon
- Fresh coriander leaves – a few sprigs, chopped
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How To Make Panchmel Dal:
1. Prep the legumes
Place all the five dals in a large container or bowl. Wash the dals in several changes of water till the water runs clear.
Pour three cups of plain water into the container for soaking the dals. Set aside for two hours.
After two hours, the dals would have swelled somewhat. Drain the water and move on to the next step: make the masala base.
2. Make the masala base
Roughly chop the tomatoes. Scrape and crush or finely chop the ginger.
If using fresh fenugreek, pluck the leaves and chop them coarsely. Discard the stems.
Heat half a tablespoon of oil in the pressure cooker. Add the following spices to hot oil (turn down the Heat to minimum when you do this): cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon stick, coriander seeds. Stir around as the whole spices toast and sizzle – be careful to not let anything burn.
As soon as the cumin seeds turn color (this will take only a few seconds), add the chopped ginger and slit green chili to the oil.
Follow with chopped fenugreek and turmeric powder. Stir around to mix everything with the toasted spices.
Turn the heat up again and add chopped tomatoes, red chili powder and salt.
Cook till the tomatoes are slightly mushy.
3. Boil it all together
Transfer the soaked dals to the pressure cooker.
Fry the dals along with the masala base for two minutes.
Pour three cups of water into the dal. Add salt to taste
Lock the lid of the pressure cooker and set the heat to high till you get the first whistle. Set the heat to low and cook for another ten minutes.
Switch off the heat and let the pressure cooker release its steam naturally till the lid comes off without effort. Unlock the lid and this step and mash the dal lightly. Stir in fresh coriander leaves.
We are now ready for the final step – the tadka.
4. Do the tadka
Heat ghee in a tadka ladle on low heat.
When the ghee is hot, tip into it minced garlic and dry red chilies.
As soon as the garlic turns golden and the chilies crisp up, take the ladle off the heat, pour it into the dal and cover.
Panchmel dal is ready to eat.
Serve hot along with rice or chapatis.
Meal below: panchmel dal, stuffed ridge gourd, mooli pickle, chapatis.
Try other exotic dal recipes:
- vegetable dhansak: a Parsi delicacy
- poi saag toor dal
- red lentil with tamarind and dates
- goji berry dal tadka
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