Daal Week 4: I may have posted this dish on the blog before, but never the recipe. It’s a Bengali preparation, and my mom makes these items particularly well. I poached the recipe from her, but she didn’t want her (highly appreciated) chana daal recipe up on the internet, so I improvised a few things and made my own.
Luchi are fried bread made from fine wheat (maida) and traditionally fried in ghee. Since I don’t use ghee at home and I don’t want to die, I used vegetable oil. From what I’ve read and seen, they don’t seem different from the more common bhature.
Chana Daal is a hardier daal that doesn’t soften easily. This recipe is sweet, and incorporates sugar in the daal. If you know anything about Indian cooking, you’ll know what Aloo Dum is – boiled and fried potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce.
Before I talk more about the dish, and customizations, here’s the recipe (serves 2-3). DISCLAIMER guys: In Indian amateur cooking, we don’t really weigh out the food, preferring to go by instinct and numbers. I’ve tried to provide metric values, but they’re not very dependable.
|Chana Daal||1 cup||~200g|
|Turmeric Powder||1 tbsp||~15g||Haldi|
|Red Chilly Powder||1 tbsp||~15g||Laal Mirch|
|Garam Masala||1/2 tsp||~3g|
|White sugar||4 tsp||~20g||Best to adjust this to taste.|
|Coconut whites||1 inch||~8g|
|Cumin seeds||1/2 tsp||~3g|
|Cinnamon||2 sticks||~5g each|
| Mum describes it as “All the spices”. In North Indian cooking, the following spices are common, and many dishes use all of them in various quantities – Cumin powder, Red chilly powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, garam masala, Dry mango powder (amchoor).|
Use 2 tbsp of coriander powder (thickens gravy), 1/2 tsp of Garam masala, and 1 tsp of everything else. As you cook this multiple times, you’ll learn to adjust these in various ratios.
|Garlic||3 cloves||I make it easy on myself…|
|Ginger||1 inch||…by using a store-bought paste.|
|Green Chlilies||3||Adjust for biting spiciness.|
|I used mustard and ketchup.|
|Spices: See footer||to taste|
|All Purpose Flour||1 cup||~200g||Maida i.e. refined wheat flour|
|Oil / Ghee||1 tbsp||~15g|
|White Sugar||1 tbsp||~15g||Powdering this will make your life easier.|
|Water||As required to bind the dough.|
- DAAL: Wash the daal 3 times* and soak them.
(*You’ll see the water become milky with starch and dirt.)
- DAAL: Keep all the ingredients for tempering handy. You’ll want to put them in quickly. Chop the ginger and coconut into small slivers.
- ALOO DUM: Chop the tomatoes and onions. Blend the onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and green chillies into a paste. If you don’t have a blender, just chop them all really fine.
- LUCHI: Make your luchi dough – pass the flour through a sieve if you can. Add the sugar, oil and salt (only a pinch). Add water in single handfuls as you start working the flour into a dough.
Be careful not to add too much water – keep working the dough until it becomes painfully obvious you need more water, then add 1 handful and proceed till you have a nice smooth dough.
- Drain the daal. Put in a pressure cooker with salt and turmeric powder and set it over a flame for 3 whistles.
- Boil the potatoes (skin on) completely – give them 3 whistles in a pressure cooker or at least 15 minutes in a covered pot.
I like to do boil the daal and potatoes together while I do other prep, to save time. If boiling in the same cooker, keep the daal in the cooker after the next step.
- After the potatoes have been boiled and the pressure cooker has cooled down (be careful!), pull them out and peel them.
- Optionally, you can fry your potatoes now. If you do, let them dry so they don’t spit at you. I like to toss them in a pan with a little oil on a high flame for a couple of minutes. You’ll know they’re cooked when the potatoes start to wrinkle and gain a browner colour.
- In a pot or deep pan, add a shot of oil, and then add your tomato-onion blend and let it cook on a medium flame for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add “all the spices” and continue cooking until the gravy has a rich brownish red colour.
- Add the potatoes to the gravy and mix well. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer (low flame cooking) for a few minutes. Taste and adjust.
- For the daal, add the butter to a small pan (a tempering pan, if you have one), and add in order: Star anise, Peanuts, Ginger, Coconut, Cinnamon, Cumin, Asafoetida.
- The temper will only need a few seconds to cook through. Tip it over into the daal and put the daal cooker back on low flame. Let it boil slowly and add the garam masala, red chilly powder, and sugar. Taste and adjust.
- For the luchi, set up a deep fryer (refer safety notes below) – vegetable oil in a kadai or frying pot, slotted spoon or frying sieve, and some newspaper or kitchen roll for draining. Let the oil heat up for a few minutes. It is ready to use when you put in a cumin seed or breadcrumb and it immediately rises to the top.
- Roll out small balls of the luchi dough into circles. Keep a frying spoon or sieve ready. With the fryer on a high flame, lower a luchi circle into the oil, dropping it in the direction away from you.
DON’T PRESS IT IN. Let the hot oil do its thing – the luchi will puff up and rise to the top in a few seconds. Flip it using your spoon and give it another few seconds, before raising it out and draining it on kitchen paper. Serve immediately.
Safety Notes: Deep frying is dangerous business. If you’ve never done it before, keep reading this paragraph. If you’re not careful, you WILL burn yourself*. Always make sure that there is no water nearby. Water in hot oil evaporates violently, spitting out and causing the oil to splash. Make sure your item for frying is sufficiently dry. Your slotted spoon or frying sieve should be long enough that your hands don’t need to be over the oil when an item is cooking.
*(Although, call me crazy, but I consider oil burns as a mark of pride. It’s not incompetence because even the most experienced chefs slip up sometimes and burn themselves. I consider oil burns as battle scars. I just make sure my face is not the part being scarred.)
Note: My daal looks a little black because I put the chilly powder and garam masala in the temper, and they burned really quickly. Avoid this by putting them in the daal separate from the temper.
For customizations, I don’t want to do too many things in this recipe. Adding a little dairy (cream or milk) to the potatoes will make it more of a gravy if you prefer that to spicy pasty potatoes. Play around with the daal ingredients. There are some fantastic spices that would work well – cloves, bay leaves, fried onions or garlic.
Thank you for checking out #RecipeLab! If you like this recipe, leave me a comment below telling me about the recipe and your preferences. There are more recipes in Daal Week – check back on the Navigation Post Right Here to see the other recipes, or check out the Cooking category in the Library to see what else I have. 🙂