GSBTB Open Kitchen is a platform that takes people out of their isolation in a new city and gives them a chance to get to know new people through the simple act of cooking, where everyone has something to contribute. Due to the Covid-19 crisis, we are all staying home, but the Open Kitchen still wants share the community’s kitchen adventures, and give you a chance to share yours — and here’s where our Quarantine Kitchen series comes in! In our third edition, GSBTB Communications Manager Abeera Atif teaches you how to make one of her staple meals — tasty and flavourful mixed daal. She pairs this with a South Indian classic, the ever-popular and healthy dosa.
In all the uncertainty that has popped up in my life thanks to the Covid-19 crisis, one thing has remained constant — my unquestionable and unwavering love for daal. In South Asia, all lentils are called ‘daal’, and we’re fortunate to have a rich variety of different types of lentils in our cuisine.
Any South Asian will understand the pure comfort a good bowl of daal can bring you; it’s one of the basic, staple dishes of every South Asian household. In my home, there was never a meal complete without daal of some kind, and cooking something as staple as this dish often ends up grounding me when I feel far away from my family (as an immigrant in general, but especially since the crisis has intensified the feeling of distance between us).
Daal can be eaten with many things; traditionally, in Pakistan, the most common way to eat it is with white basmati rice (chawal). It can’t get more Pakistani than daal chawal; it’s so closely associated with our nation that my friend even wrote an article beautifully describing the phenomenon. You can also eat it with any kind of flatbread. I wanted to shake things up a little, so after being given an instant dosa mix by an Indian friend, I decided it was time to try to branch out. Dosa is a thin rice pancake that is regularly eaten in South India.
If you’ve also been financially affected by the crisis, daal is a healthy and fairly cheap option! It’s also suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and feels like a warm hug for your stomach on cold winter nights.
Yellow Mixed Daal and Dosa
Yellow Mixed Daal
200 grams yellow lentils (I used Turkish yellow lentils, “sari mercimek“)
200 grams red lentils (I used Turkish red lentils, “kırmızı mercimek“)
1-2 white onions, large
1 tbsp garlic paste, or crushed fresh garlic
1 tbsp ginger paste, or crushed fresh ginger
2 tsp tumeric powder
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp red chili powder (or more, depending on how spicy you want it)
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
2 – 3 tbsp ghee or oil (or as much as you want)
2 tsp cumin seeds (optional)
1 tsp brown mustard seeds (optional)
1 tsp coriander seeds (optional)
salt, pepper to taste
For the toppings:
fried onions and garlic
Note: you can adjust the spices to whatever spice level you want, I usually make it on the spicier side.
Take a pot and heat up 1 tbsp of ghee or oil. Add cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and brown mustard seeds. Fry for a minute, and then add onions.
Fry the onions for a while, and add the ginger and garlic paste. Fry until the smell of raw garlic and ginger has gone, and the onions become translucent.
Meanwhile, measure out both red and yellow lentils — or if you’re like me, just eyeball them (pro-tip: if you live in Berlin, you can find these at your local Turkish supermarket, or some chains like Bolu or Eurogida).
When the onions and garlic-ginger mixture are done frying, add in the lentils along with enough water so it covers them. Add water based on how soupy or dry you usually like eating your lentils. I like mine soupy, so I added a lot of water! Leave this mixture to boil until the lentils are soft. While this is happening, you can add in the spices — add in tumeric, coriander powder, chili powder, cumin powder, garam masala, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Everyone likes their lentils according to their own taste, so be sure to experiment here — if you like it on the spicier side, adjust the spices however you want, and if you like it salty, add more salt to taste (just be sure not to overuse tumeric, because it has a very strong taste if overused).
While the lentils cook, chop up some fresh coriander, garlic, and onions.
Heat up oil in a frying pan, and add the garlic and onions. Fry until brown or charred. This is called a tarka — the process of adding spices or fresh onion and garlic to very hot oil, to bring out an intense aroma and flavour and add it to your dish (note: you can skip this step, should you be satisfied with your daal the way it is. But don’t skimp on the fresh coriander!).
Garnish the daal with fresh coriander and the fried garlic and onions. Serve while hot.
1 part instant dosa mix (I used this one by MTR)
1 part water
1/4 part sour curd/yogurt
oil, for frying
Measure out one part of the instant dosa mix, and add 1 equal part water. Add in 1/4 parts sour curd (I used yogurt instead).
Mix in a bowl using a whisk.
Heat up some oil in a frying pan and scoop up the batter, spreading it thinly and evenly in a circular motion using the back of a spoon. Dosa is supposed to be paper thin, but it’s hard to perfect this on the first try! Here’s a YouTube video showing the process of making it, and what the final result is supposed to look like. Mine ended up being a bit thicker on the first try, but I’ve gotten better since then.
Fry until brown on one side, and then flip. Repeat this process until you have a nice, crispy, brown dosa (see the picture of the meal for reference). Serve hot and eat with the daal.
Want to make this dish pop? You can add any of these things…
Mint yogurt (mint raita mix and fresh mint mixed into any yogurt)
Cumin raita (cumin powder and toasted cumin seeds mixed into any yogurt)
A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Stay tuned for more cooking adventures to come, in the next series of Quarantine Kitchen!