24 October, 2008

Maa Di Dal: Mother of All Dals

Maa Di Dal

Last weekend I grudgingly removed my long jackets along with matching gloves and scarves. The sun still shining on clear blue sky made me almost believe that it’s still summer. But ten steps away from home and I started shivering like a dry leaves about to fall from the maple tree around the corner. Winter is almost here…

Gone are the days of my sexy sandals and sleeveless summer dresses and I look like a stuffed teddy bear sporting long jackets, long boots and woollen scarf. There is still little greenery and colours around me which seems to be quickly fading away leaving naked tree branches against grey sky. Our BBQ kit is snugly sitting in our garden shed along with lawn mower. I am getting up to dark skies every morning and bowl of my favourite cereal with cold milk is not much appealing these days. Driving to office with headlights on is not helping either. Thankfully we are still away from the days of scrapping the thick coat of ice from car windows. But nevertheless winter is almost here…

Two things always cheer me during winters- shopping and food, in no particular order. In spite of gloomy global market slowdown, my winter shopping is going at full fledge. This winter I am adding more colours to my wardrobe and I am happily trotting around wearing my new crimson red long jacket. Yup, colour of love and passion is what I am wearing among all that black and greys. I can’t help but feel like a queen when I tread upon the carpets of gold and crimson, brown and bronze coloured leaves… Silly? Well, I am happy to be silly then…

And coming to food, do I need to say anything about the way it cheers me? Lot of hot and comfort foods are churned every day in my tiny kitchen. I don’t need any central heating when I stand near a gas stove, stirring a pot of hot soup or curries and let the steam and aromas coming from them tickle my nose. Everyday meal turns out be special, not because they contain rich and special ingredients, but because of the experience of sharing it with someone you love. Yes, winter is almost here and now I am loving every moment of it…

To celebrate the true spirit of winter, I cooked a special dish called Maa Ki Dal from Raghavan’s 660 Curries. Maa Ki Dal is probably the mother of all Dals. And this is nothing like a simple dal I make so often to go with rice and pickle, my comfort food. This Punjabi dish is very rich and bit fattening with all that cream and ghee that goes into making this simply superb creamy dream. This lentil recipe uses very few spices and they don’t over power the nutty taste of whole urad dal, channa dal or rajma. Don’t be afraid to use all that cream and ghee as it is ‘once in a while indulgence’ kind of food. Served with freshly made batch of hot Phulkas, it was simply divine. And how can resist from sending this mother of all dals to witty Sra of When My Soup Came Alive as she is guest hosting this month's My Legume Love Affair, a lovely event started by lovely lady Susan. Sorry girl for bombarding your mailbox with my entries but this recipe has to waltz around for MLLA :) This is also my entry for dear Sunshinemom's FIC-Brown.

Whole Urad Dal, Channa Dal and Rajma

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Maa Di Dal (Slow cooked Lentils in Creamy Gravy)
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 40-80 mins
Serves: 6-8
Recipe Source: 660 Curries
1 cup Whole Urad Dal/Black Lentils
½ cup Channa Dal/Split Chickpeas
½ cup Rajma/Red Kidney Beans, cooked and roughly mashed or 1 cup Cooked/Canned Rajma
2 Bay Leaves
2 pieces of 2 inch Cinnamon Sticks
4 Green Cardamoms or 2 Black Cardamoms
½ - 1 tsp Kashmiri/Deggi Chilli Powder or Paprika
½ tsp Turmeric Powder (Optional)
1 large Onion, finely chopped
4 large Tomatoes, very finely chopped or pureed
1 tbsp Tomato Paste (Optional)
¼ - ½ cup Fresh Cream (I used ¼ cup single cream)
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
¼ tsp Hing/Asafoetida (Optional but I recommend)
2 tbsp Fresh Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp Ghee/Oil
Salt to taste

Grind to Paste:
2-4 Green Chillies
1 inch Ginger
4-5 large or 6-7 medium Garlic flakes
Maa Di Dal

Wash urad dal and channa dal 3-4 times in water till all the impurities are removed. Place it in a heavy bottomed pan or pressure cooker and add about 4-5 cups of water and bring it to boil. Skim the foam formed on surface.
Now add the ground paste of chilli-ginger-garlic, bay leaves, cardamoms, cinnamon stick, and turmeric powder. Cover the lid and let it cook for 60 minutes, stirring in between, till the lentils falls apart. If using pressure cooker cook for 20-25 minutes or 4-5 whistles. Let the pressure be released before you open the pressure cooker lid.
Heat ghee/oil in a pan and add jeera and hing. When jeera starts to sizzle and turn golden red shade, add finely chopped onion and sauté till it turns golden brown, about 2-3 mins. Add finely chopped tomatoes or pureed tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes in medium flame till the oil separates from the mixture.
To this add chilli powder, salt to taste, cooked lentils and mashed red kidney beans. Add about a cup of water to the pan in which lentils are cooked to deglaze it and mix this water to the gravy. Mix in the cream and let the whole gravy simmer for at least 15 minutes for all the flavours to blend well. Add little more water if needed but make sure that the gravy is thick and not runny. At this stage you can also add dash of lime/lemon juice needed.
Serve this delicious creamy Maa Di Dal, garnished with finely chopped coriander leaves and a dash of ghee if needed, with any Roties or Chapatti and enjoy. And yes, it tastes better when served next day.

Addition of Hing is optional but recommended.
To cut down the cooking time, you can soak whole Urad dal in water overnight or for 4-5 hours.
Replace cream with yogurt for healthy option.


  1. Hey Passion queen Ma Di daal looks so yumm.
    I have the same book which i won with the raffle with jugalbandi guys. I think i will have too really sit for few days and go through that book. Actually it is just next to my bedside table, which i had kept about a month ago.
    Can i borow the beautiful pan which you serve the dal ^-)

  2. Oh forgot to say i made you creamy kidney beans and it was super delicious

  3. wow!wat great pics....i had an urge to jump into the dal vessel and dig in....and your hand pic is also cool! and coming to the recipe...yummmmmm!

  4. warm,filling,comforting healthy food-goes with rices and rotis

  5. This one sure is thick and creamy :) So many dhal involved in this curry!
    Holiday shopping are sure a fun :)

  6. Hi Sia,
    mouth watering dish and nice pixs as usual.:)
    Thanks for sharing.

  7. gorgeous dal! Mother of all dals indeed! Looks so mouth-watering.

  8. Hey Sia that looks so rich and creamy dal love the second pic really good one :) hey seems 660 has really good recipes.. plannin to buy one for myself..

  9. No words to say...delicioussssssssssss!!!!!!!!!

  10. Sups!!! I love all types of dals - mango, tomato, drumstick etc etc... but never tried this one u know!! looks so yum!!!

  11. Oh sexy, sleeveless one, the pics are gorgeous, and I wish I could be there to revel in and tread on the fall leaves.

  12. HC, u should cook something from 600 curries and post soon. it is one the best cookery book on indian cuisine i geel. sometime i just sit and browse through and find so many recipes which are unheard of. so give it a shot soon :)
    and thank you for trying our rajma and letting me know.

    sangeeth, curry leaf,cham, uma, priya, padmaja
    Thank you girls :) it is probably mother of all dals. very creamy and simply delicious and i will be cooking it again soon.

    Sonu, thank you dear. do u blog? do leave ur blog url next time when u visit.

    sushama, its worth buying that book.

    Sra, u should plan a trip to uk sometime. and i miss walking on footpaths in b'lore when its a season of flowers... ~sighs~

  13. Excellent dal! Really Mother of all dals indeed! Looks so tempting...

  14. Wow this is something royal type of food. Looks awesome. Pics making me hungry.

  15. Lovely pic Sia as usual :) this is a diferent recipe from the ones which i have known.

  16. I have always wondered the name. Anyways your dal is looking so creamy! and the pics as always make my mouth water.

  17. Maa di dal sounds interesting and as HC hav told I am searching for the serving dish;)I liked it very much!
    Happy diwali to you!

  18. wow .. that looks delicious sia .. thatz one hell of an indulgence ..

  19. hahah..sexy sleveless??>.gosh I can imagine..hehehehe...

    maa ki daal is yummy sia dear..wish you could make for me...:)

  20. Hi

    Thanks for visiting me. This is my first time in your place and it is so awesome that I am quite lost. The recipes are a treasure and the pictures and ur presentation too. Just love it.

    I will add u to my Links.

    Thanx again (Soma www.ecurry.com)

  21. Oh that looks fabulous Sia.. i remember seeing a similar recipe over at Richa's blog too. The creamy taste that black urad lends is so good.

  22. Yummo....so comforting.....Bookmarked!!!!

  23. love this dal. i make it a lot. only on special occasions i add the extra cream. mouthwatering pics.

  24. Hi Sia, thanks for your comments in my blog. I have been a silent reader of your blog for quite sometime. I love your recipes, pics and also the look of your blog. very beautifully designed blog. You have a wonderful taste.

  25. Absolutely love the recipe and the pictures esp the one with raw dal mix. I still have to remove my warm clothes... maybe this weekend!

  26. This has to be the perfect wintry evening accompaniment to phulkas...looks delicious :-)

  27. Dal looks lip smacking, Sia! Gal, Don't remind me about winter :) I love fall and still in that "rejection" mode for winter :)

    I'm like you, global economy crisis doesn't stop me from shopping those pretty sweaters!:) Have fun with shopping!

  28. Winter sure does stir up the appetite for hearty foods. The dal looks delicious, Sia. And I love the pictures, as always.

  29. Dal looks yummy... Bookmarked to try...Its winter here and this would be a very good choice to make.. Thanks

  30. That picture has me craving for some dal now!

  31. The dal looks fabulous, and I love the kadai you have served it in.

  32. First time here, great thing you've got going. I'm definitely going to try this out :) Esp since my husband loves this dal a lot!

    Btw, I jst bought myself a crimson red long jacket this morning :) Rock on, lady!

  33. I love the scent of spices and have lots of Indian ones in my cupboard from a project I did, sooooo, it must be time to use them after seeing this and drooling.
    Love the photos.

  34. A very happy and prosperous diwali.

  35. Hi SIa,
    Just to let you know the round up is up now, I am sooooo sorry for being this late, it was an aweful month for me...

  36. Ma di dal looks very appetizing.Great pics specially the one with hands....
    its raining here and the weather has changed .
    wish yo happy diwali .
    hugs and smiles

  37. You have a lovely blog Sia. Thanks for visiting mine....

  38. Wishing you and your family a happy diwali!

  39. Wonderful shot Sia, mind blowing picture and the recipes is too good.
    I love ur space but at times I cannot access it, but I would to come here often.

  40. Bus ek hi cheez yaad a gayi titil dekh kar! Mere pass daulat hai, izzat hai, shohrat hai. Tumhare paas kya hai?

    Mere paas Maa ki daal hai:)

  41. Hi, Please check ur email when u feel free.
    Thank you.

  42. Sups, I can send you some sunshine and heat :) I cook this dal on a slow flame for over an hour and the whole thing turns creamy. So that way I dont have to add too much of cream and butter :) Adding milk and slow cooking till it turns creamy is another option. Works well for me.

  43. Warm Diwali Wishes to u and ur family too dear!
    Do i need to say anything abt this creamy ,rich flavored Dal....yeah..just one word....Mindblowing!

  44. Hey, thanks for sending the dal to FIC:)

  45. This looks amazing. I will definitely be trying this at the weekend!!!! :-)

  46. hello sia, i just love maa ki daal and adding cream at the end just makes it superrbbb :)


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