There is nothing more comforting or delicious than a nice simmering cup of kali dal.
I cant remember a single Diwali , our Indian festival of lights, that has gone by in our house when we haven’t made Kali dal. There are so many ways to make this dish but I really love the way we make it in my mother’s kitchen!
We don’t put any of the butter and cream that makes this dal so heavy – we use mustard oil instead. Mustard oil is used a lot in Pahari food which is eaten in Himachal Pradesh in India – that’s where both my parents are primarily from.
1 cup whole or split black lentils (ma ki daal)
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 large onions sliced thin
3 medium onions finely chopped
1 inch ginger sliced
5 tablespoons of mustard oil (can use any oil)
7 cups water
4 tomatoes pureed with 5-6 cloves of garlic (or 1 1/2 small cans of tomato paste)
Pinch of asafoetida (hing)
2 teaspoons coriander powder (dhaniya)
1 teaspoon dry mango powder (amchur)
1 bunch chopped cilantro
- Place the lentils in a pressure cooker with 2 tablespoons of mustard oil, turmeric powder, 2 big sliced onions, salt to taste and 7 cups of water.
- Pressure cook till tender (about 20 – 30 mins from 1st whistle). Make sure you have plenty of water or else the dal can burn in the pressure cooker. You can also cook it in a large pot – it just takes much longer.
- When cooked set aside.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of mustard oil in a separate pan.
- Add 3-4 bay leaves, a pinch of asafoetida and 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and stir for a minute till the cumin seeds begin to pop.
- Add 1 tablespoon of sliced ginger and cook for a minute.
- Then add 3 onions chopped.
- Fry this for about 10 minutes till the onions begin to brown.
- Add 2 teaspoons of coriander powder, 3/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon of dry mango powder and red chili powder to taste.
- Stir for a minute.
- Add 3 medium tomatoes (or tomato paste) which have been pureed with 5-6 cloves of garlic.
- Add salt and cook it for about 15 mins covered.
- Put the pot of cooked dal which was set aside back on a medium flame.
- Add the onion and tomato mixture to the black dal and mix it very well.
- Let this mixture cook on a very slow flame for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Stir it occasionally.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with white basmati rice.
Kali dal always tastes better the day after. I usually make mine at least a day ahead and the more you let it simmer on a very slow flame – the better it tastes. This dish also freezes very well so you can make a big pot of it and then freeze the leftovers!