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Toor Dal (Pigeon Peas)

Posted on December 24, 2021 at 10:15 AM by Madhu Gadia

Toor Dal (Pigeon Peas) 


Soak: 2 hours or longer (optional)
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes

Toor dal (split, hulled pigeon peas) is one of the most popular everyday dals enjoyed in Indian homes. It is easy to make and cooks up quickly. Toor dal can be lightly seasoned to super spiced. In north India, it is typically served plain. In south India, vegetables are added to the cooked dal and highly seasoned to make sambhar.

I remember my baby sister once complaining after school to our mom, “It’s always toor dal, toor dal, toor dal. Don’t you know how to make anything else?” (I think she was really hungry and wanted something special.) Toor dal is the good old standby; it complements most vegetable side dishes and is great with roti and/or rice.

Most Indians own a pressure cooker and use it to cook most dals – it saves a lot of time in the kitchen. Instant Pot is a great substitute for a pressure cooker. (See *Note below.)

Jolie Cooks with Madhu comments: Jolie says, “Ted and I enjoyed this comforting Indian dish. We were completely satisfied with our simple menu of delicious dal, brown rice, raw veggies, and dip. We gave it five stars.

What will I do differently next time?  I’ll make a double batch. What’s more, cooking toor dal has nudged me into a new category of ingredients, dried lentils, peas, and beans.

¾ cup (split, hulled) toor dal
4 cup water
1 teaspoon ginger, peeled and grated
½ teaspoon turmeric
¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon garam masala

Seasoning (Chounk)
2 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil
1/8 teaspoon asafetida (optional)
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 tablespoons tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, optional

1. Place dal in a bowl and wash dal as you rub the dal with your hands, in 2 to 3 changes of water. Soak for 2 hours or longer. Drain the soaking water, wash in water one more time, and drain the dal. *Note: Instant pot directions below.

2. In a saucepan, combine drained dal, water, ginger, turmeric, and salt. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and boil uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes until the beans are very soft. Stir to mix beans with the liquid.    

3. Prepare chounk (seasoning): In a small fry pan, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add asafetida, if using, and cumin seeds. Cook for a few seconds until cumin seeds are golden brown. Remove from heat, add coriander and cayenne pepper, and cook for a few seconds. Stir in tomato sauce, return to heat and simmer for 10 seconds. Stir chounk into dal. Stir in garam masala.

4. Return to stove and simmer (low boil) dal for 5 - 7 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with chopped cilantro, if desired. Serve hot. Dal thickens as it cools.

*NOTE: Pressure or Instant Pot directions:

Step 1. Follow step 1 and wash, soak and drain dal. (Dal can be cooked without soaking if you don’t have time and using pressure cooker or Instant Pot.)

Step 2. In the pressure cooker or Instant Pot, add washed, drained dal, 3 cups water, ginger, turmeric, and salt. Cover with lid and set pressure for 3 minutes. Let the pressure release.

Step 3. Follow step 3 and season the dal.

Step 4. Follow step 4 and simmer in the pressure cooker. In Instant Pot sauté for 7 minutes (Instant Pot use sauté setting).

Makes: 6 servings
Serving Size: ½ cup

Calories: 103; Total Fat: 2 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g); Carbohydrate: 17 g; Protein: 6 g; Fiber: 4 g; Sodium: 336 mg

(Reprinted with permission from The Indian Vegan Kitchen: More than 150 Quick and Healthy Homestyle Recipes by Madhu Gadia.)

Tagged As: Beans

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