Understanding the Basics of Dal
First things first, let's understand what dal is. Dal, also known as lentils, is a staple food in the Indian subcontinent. It is rich in proteins and fiber, making it a healthy choice for vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters alike. Dal can be prepared in numerous ways, but today, we're going to focus on a simple, foolproof method of cooking dal using an electric rice cooker. This method is not only easy but also allows you to go about your day without having to worry about overcooking or burning your dal.
Choosing the Right Dal
The term 'dal' encompasses a wide variety of lentils. From the yellow moong dal to the orange masoor dal, each type has its unique taste and texture. When cooked, some lentils retain their shape, while others turn mushy. For this recipe, we'll use the commonly available and easily cookable - toor dal, also known as split pigeon peas.
Preparing the Dal for Cooking
Before you start cooking the dal, it is crucial to prepare it properly. Rinse the lentils under cold water until the water runs clear. This step removes any dust or impurities that might be present. After rinsing, soak the lentils in water for about 30 minutes. Soaking softens the lentils and reduces the cooking time. It also aids in better digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Assembling the Ingredients
Along with dal, a few other ingredients are needed to enhance the taste. These include onions, tomatoes, green chillies, ginger, garlic, and spices like turmeric powder, red chilli powder, and salt. For the tempering, we'll need mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dried red chillies, and a few curry leaves. And let's not forget the most crucial ingredient - oil, for cooking and tempering.
Beginning the Cooking Process
Once the dal has been soaked and all the ingredients are ready, we can start the cooking process. Add the dal, chopped onions, tomatoes, green chillies, ginger, and garlic to the rice cooker. Add water in a ratio of 1:3 (for every cup of dal, add three cups of water). Now add the spices - turmeric powder, red chilli powder, and salt. Give everything a good mix, close the lid of the rice cooker, and switch it on.
Patience is Key: Letting the Dal Cook
Here's where the waiting game begins. An electric rice cooker takes its own sweet time to cook. But the best part is, you don't have to monitor it continuously. The cooker will automatically switch to the 'keep warm' mode once the dal is cooked. This usually takes about 20-30 minutes.
Preparing the Tempering
While the dal is cooking, we can prepare the tempering. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Let them crackle. Now add the dried red chillies and curry leaves. Sauté for a few seconds and switch off the flame. The tempering is ready.
Mixing in the Tempering
Once the dal is cooked and the cooker has switched to the 'keep warm' mode, add the prepared tempering to the dal. Mix well. The flavor of the tempering gets infused into the dal, giving it a delicious taste and aroma.
And there you have it - delicious, homemade dal using an electric rice cooker. This dal is best served hot with rice or chapati. You can garnish it with fresh coriander leaves for an extra layer of flavor. Enjoy this hearty, comforting meal any time of the day!