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Soak Prep Cook Serves 3 hr 20 min

3-6 hr+ (or 20-90 min in a pres­sure cooker


200g urad dal (black gram lentils)

25g chana dal (chick­pea lentils)

50ml veg­etable oil, plus 1 tbsp ex­tra for fry­ing

2 tsp salt

1 big tbsp gin­ger paste (peeled, finely chopped and ground to a paste)

1 big tbsp gar­lic paste (peeled, finely chopped and ground to a paste)

1 tbsp Kash­miri chilli pow­der

1 tsp In­dian chilli pow­der 160g tomato puree 100g un­salted but­ter 50ml sin­gle cream 2 tsp dried fenu­greek leaf, lightly roasted and ground A cook­ing tech­nique used across In­dia and south Asia, in which spices are dry-toasted and/or fried in ghee or oil, and used to flavour cur­ries and dals

Wash the dals un­der cold run­ning wa­ter un­til it runs clear. Put in a bowl, cover with warm wa­ter and leave to soak for at least three hours.

Drain the dal, tip into a pan, add the oil and salt, then cover with 1.2 litres warm wa­ter and cook on a low heat un­til the grains split and go soft – black dal is like a small, rock-hard bul­let, so takes a long time to cook, any­thing from three to six hours-plus (tra­di­tion­ally, it’s cooked overnight on a char­coal tan­door). Al­ter­na­tively, cook it in a pres­sure cooker on medium un­til done – pres­sure cook­ers vary hugely: mine’s a very old one with a whis­tle, and it takes about 90 min­utes; more mod­ern ones will be much faster.

Heat the ta­ble­spoon of oil in a heavy pan, add the gin­ger and gar­lic pastes, and stir on medium heat for two min­utes, un­til they start to catch. Add the chilli pow­ders and 100ml wa­ter, and cook, stir­ring, for a minute. Add the tomato puree, cook for 10-15 min­utes, then stir into the dal pot and cook for 30 min­utes, un­til com­bined. Add 90g but­ter and cook, stir­ring, for 15 min­utes.

Stir in the cream and fenu­greek, cook, stir­ring, for 15 min­utes, then ad­just sea­son­ing to taste. Serve with the re­main­ing but­ter on top. Prep Cook Serves 30 min 1 hr 4

50g toor dal

(pi­geon peas)

50g ma­soor dal

(split red lentils)

25g chana dal (chick­pea lentils)

1 tsp salt

10g ghee

½ tsp ground turmeric

To tem­per the dal

1 tbsp veg­etable oil 15g ghee

½ tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp gar­lic, finely chopped

¼ tsp asafoetida (also known as hing)

3 red chill­ies, split length­ways

30g red onion, finely chopped

50g toma­toes, chopped Salt

½ tsp red chilli pow­der 1 tsp ground co­rian­der ½ tsp ground turmeric 3 tbsp chopped fresh co­rian­der leaves

Wash all the dals un­der cold run­ning wa­ter un­til it runs clear. Put in a bowl, cover with warm wa­ter, soak for around 30 min­utes, then drain.

Tip the dal into a deep casse­role, add the salt, ghee and turmeric, add wa­ter to cover, then bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, cover and leave to cook un­til very soft and ten­der – about an hour.

To tem­per the dal, heat the oil and ghee in a fry­ing pan, add the cumin and stir un­til it starts to crackle. Add the gar­lic, asafoetida and chill­ies, and stir for two min­utes, un­til they be­gin to darken.

Add the chopped onion and cook, stir­ring, un­til it turns golden brown. Stir in the toma­toes and a pinch of salt, and cook, stir­ring, for five to six min­utes, un­til very soft. Add all the ground spices and about five ta­ble­spoons of wa­ter, and stir un­til the wa­ter evap­o­rates and the spices be­gin to sep­a­rate.

Tip into the dal pot, mix to­gether and cook for a minute or two, just to com­bine. Sea­son to taste, gar­nish with co­rian­der and serve with bas­mati rice or naan.

Recipes by Karam Sethi, co-owner of Gymkhana, Hop­pers, Bri­gadiers and Tr­ishna restau­rants

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