Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Palida Daal

Palida is a Gujarati toor (arhar in Bengali) daal recipe that I had for the first time at my brother’s home last time I was in Cal. It had the characteristically nutty flavour of arhar daal, balanced brilliantly by a pronounced briny-sour fruit note that I didn’t recognise. After numerous attempts at prying the recipe from him, the cook finally relented and disclosed the secret ingredient—kokum.

Kokum is the semi-dried, sour and astringent skin of a mangosteen-like fruit that is native to the Western Ghats in India. It makes frequent appearances in the cuisines of western Indian states like Gujarat and Maharashtra and is used, like tamarind, to add a sour and salty note to recipes.

1½ cups Toor daal (Arhar)
2 quarts (8 cups) Water
1 tsp Turmeric
Salt (to taste)
1 tbsp Ghee
1 small Onion (finely chopped)
2 tsp whole Fenugreek
2 tsp whole Cumin
2 small Tomatoes (chopped)
2 tsp ground Coriander
½ tsp ground Cumin
1 tsp Chilli powder
1 tbsp Garlic (ground to a paste)
4 tsp Besan (Gram flour)
8 pieces Kokum
  1. Wash daal thoroughly and let soak, covered in water, in a bowl, for 30 mins. Drain water and set daal aside. 
  2. Bring 2 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large stockpot. Add daal, turmeric and salt, and cook, covered, over medium-high heat, occasionally skimming the foam and scum that gathers on the top. When the daal is soft and cooked through, about 40-45 mins, drain the water into a large bowl. Set aside both the drained water and cooked daal, as the finishing spices are prepared. 
  3. In a pot (large enough to subsequently accommodate the daal), heat ghee over medium-high heat, add whole fenugreek and cumin and let them sputter for about a minute. Add onions and fry for 3–4 mins, until lightly golden. Add tomatoes, coriander, cumin, chilli powder and garlic, and continue frying for 4-5 mins, until the oil separates. Then add the besan and fry for 2 mins. 
  4. Slowly add the drained water, and stir briskly to make sure there are no lumps. Add cooked daal and kokum, lower heat, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, allowing the daal to thicken. Serve hot with rice.

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