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Chaunk-Style Dal (Daal): Quick Easy Lentil Stew Made With Tempered Oil
Chaunk, chonk, dal, daal
This recipe for chaunk-style dal, or lentil stew, is so quick, easy and tasty you’ll want to make it often. A great source of protein for vegetarian diets, or served as a thick stew with rice, roti or bread as a side dish you just can’t beat it. Dal, or sometimes called daal, is a popular and common dish served in India and Pakistan.
The term “chaunk” (also known as chhaunk or chonk) means to temper spices in a hot oil to release their fragrant and flavor-rich oils. The “ch” is pronounced hard and the etymology is believed to have come from the actual sizzling sound made while cooking it. This is a cooking technique common to south Asian cuisine. In this dish we’ll add our chaunk at the end before serving, but the technique can also be used at the beginning of preparation as with a curry.
The preparation time is less than 30 minutes using a pressure cooker.
1 cup rinsed yellow lentils (or you can use a mix of lentils)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (haldi)
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon mango powder (amchoor)
Chaunk (Tempered oil)
4 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee); or oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
1/8 teaspoon asafetida (hing)
4 whole chilies
4 or 5 cloves garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
Rinse and cook the lentils with the spices, water and ginger listed above. I use a pressure cooker and cook to 5 whistles. If you don’t use a pressure cooker, cook until the lentils have lost their form.
Just before the lentil mixture has finished cooking, or while your pressure cooker has whistled and is cooling down, go ahead and prepare the chaunk. In a khadia or saucepan heat your clarified butter or oil on medium high. Test it for readiness by dropping a cumin seed into the oil. If it sizzles immediately it’s ready. Add the cumin seeds and as they’re sizzling reduce the heat to medium to avoid burning the ingredients. I remove the pan from the heat for a minute or two to let the oil cool down just a bit then replace it on the burner. Go ahead and add the hing, chilies, garlic and chili powder and stir for about 30 seconds to a minute. Pour immediately into the lentil mixture, stir and serve.
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