I wanted to make a different dal than my usual thick version. Inspired by a watery light dal at Udipi Cafe, delicate in flavor, I researched numerous recipes. Not finding the thin variety, I selected a few staple spices and started experimenting with two types of beans I had on hand. The bean I needed to use primarily was a split red dal that I have had disappointing results from previously. Determined to make use of a bean that loses its color and cooks down to nothing, I decided that I would use it with the tried and true chana dal I love. Because the split red dal cooks so quickly, I decided to add it after the chana had cooked down. The red dal served to thicken the soup and when it cooked through, it gave the soup an unexpected creaminess. While the dal I ended up with wasn't what I went looking for, the dal turned out creamy, mild, and with a pleasing scent. It is a nice change from the thick spinach dal I usually make. I'll be glad to add this to my rotation.
The difference between the red split dal and the chana dal is not only apparent in color, but also in thickness.
CURRIED CHANA DAL SOUP
Cooking time: 2 hours
Water : add water throughout as you see fit
Boil 1 cup Chana Dal 1 hour over medium heat
Add 1 cup Red Split Dal. Cook additional 20 minutes.
The red dal will break down and begin to thicken the soup. More frequent stirring is required from this point forward.
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
1/2 TBSP garlic paste
1/2 TBSP ginger paste
20 curry leaves **optional
Cook additional 20 minutes over medium heat.
At this point carefully consider the water you add because it won't cook down much further. Based on how thick, thin or creamy you want the final product, remember that once the salt is added it's hard to avoid sticking if you don't stir or to thicken it much more.
Turn heat to LOW and
1/2 TSP black mustard seed
1/4 TSP ground coriander
1/2 TSP ground cumin
2 TSP turmeric
1 TSP cayenne pepper
2 TSP Madras Hot Curry powder
1 TSP salt
Cook 20 minutes over low heat.