I love daal. My mother knows that’s all I really want when I come home, my grandmothers know to make an entire extra pot for me. But it took me ages before I actually cooked myself some daal.
In my family, it was a big deal that I didn’t have a pressure cooker or rice cooker when I first moved out. And the next year both were thrust upon me. Another year passed and I still hadn’t used them. To be fair, I had enough contact with family that I didn’t need to cook Indian/Bangladeshi food myself.
Finally, one day…It was raining, I had already done some reading with a cup of tea, and all I wanted then was a good plate of daal, bhaat (rice), and begun bhaji (fried eggplants). So I took out the pressure cooker and the rice cooker. And I paused. Thank goodness for the internet, and especially, Nisha, who writes a blog called Spusht.
All the questions that she had had about cooking with a pressure cooker (and so many other questions I could have about Indian cooking), she had answered methodically.
She also wrote another blog post specifically about different things you can do to daal, which I already knew because my mum’s daal is so different from my dad’s daal, which are both so different from their mums’ daals. It comes down to the type of lentils being used, and all the extra stuff that’s going into it, and whether you’re adding those extra stuff in at the beginning or frying them afterwards and mixing them in.
I now usually make daal and bhaat when I’m really stressed/I don’t have enough time to think of what else to make, because rice and lentils are both nonperishables that are always in my pantry, along with all the other spices that I could possibly need. Coriander and any veggies you might add to it are the only things that I could be missing at any point. Because of this, I make it the simplest way possible.
– 1 cup Red Split Lentils (Masoor Daal)
– 3 cups water
– 1 tsp Turmeric
– 1 tsp Panch phoron/Punch poran (Bengal Five Spices: nigella seeds, black mustard seeds, fenugreen seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds – you can mix these in equal parts yourself, I used a store bought mix)
– 1 tbsp Vegetable oil
– 1 vegetable stock cube
– 2ish bay leaves
– 2 tbsp frozen red onions or half a red onion
– 1 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove garlic
– tomatoes: a few cherry tomatoes, or one big tomato
– handful of coriander to garnish
– 1-2 cups of water to add afterwards
Rinse and drain the lentils a couple of times. Then add everything else into the pressure cooker, close the pressure cooker, wait for it to whistle, add water if necessary, add coriander, stir and eat.
My pressure cooker is the smallest size you can get so I can only fit in 3 cups of liquid, which makes it a pretty dry daal, so I add two more cups of water at the end with the coriander – this makes enough daal for me to consume for about 3 meals.
Making rice at the same time is also a piece of cake: (after rinsing the rice) put 1 part rice and 2 parts water into the rice cooker, turn it on and wait for it to be cooked (Brown rice is usually 1 part rice 2.5 part water). I sometimes add frozen peas and some cumin seeds to it too.
Do your assignments while you wait for the cooking to be done for you…and eat!
This is my version of comfort-food-examtime-meal-prepping for the next couple days: White rice and peas & daal & eggplant fried in turmeric, paprika and vegetable oil & spinach cooked with punchpooram and garlic & Quorn steak strips cooked in garam masala and yoghurt.