Friday, May 22, 2015

Dal Cooked With Okra/Dal Jang Bhendi

Dal with okra
Red lentils cooked with okra
A wonderful way of cooking seasonal vegetables is to add them to a pot of dal. In smaller portions than what you would usually add to a vegetable curry. Till today adding certain vegetables like bottle gourd or okra takes me to the garden of my childhood. And okra has a distinct aroma that seems to get lost in frying but remains when it is steamed or added to dal. 
From top, clockwise: Teasle gourd, sponge gourd, radish/kohl rabi and bottle gourd
The list that gets cooked this way is long. Here are some of them: squash/chayote, teasle gourd, fresh bamboo shoots, ridge/sponge gourd, radish, carrots, turnips, green papaya, kohl rabi, drumsticks,the stems of amaranth and Malabar spinach. Leafy vegetables that are added are the tender stems/leaves of pumpkin, bottle gourd, drumstick leaves, spinach, radish leaves, vegetable fern and so on.
Dal with bottle gourd leaves (cooked on another day)
Today I made this variation of dal with okra. It's the simplest form of cooking but something that I enjoy particularly during this hot season.
100 grams masur dal/red lentil, washed and soaked for 15 minutes
12 small-sized okras, washed, patted dry with cloth with both ends cut off

1 large onion, finely chopped
2 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped               
3 tejpatta  
A quarter tsp of cumin and fenugreek seeds
3-4 dried red chillies   
Salt to taste
A quarter tsp turmeric
A quarter tsp red chilli powder
A pinch of grated ginger
Coriander leaves for the garnish

Cook the dal in a pan adding enough water. In a separate pan heat the oil.  When it comes to smoking point add the tejpatta, the cumin and fenugreek seeds, and the dry red chillies. Then add the onions and fry till they turn golden brown. Add the okra and stir well.  The turmeric powder and red chilli powder can go in now. Continue to cook till they are almost done. Season with salt. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for a few minutes. Then pour the cooked dal into the pan and simmer for a few minutes. Remove from the stove and transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with the chopped herbs.
Alternately, the okra can be added to dal that is on the boil and almost done. Then the tadka of onions, tomatoes, chillies and spices can be added to the dal. 
A squeeze of lemon juice (on individual plates/bowls) adds that extra zing to this dish of okra cooked in masur dal. We like it best with rice and other accompaniments.

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