The ultimate comfort food
Dal (or pappu, as it is known in Andhra) is one the most common everyday foods in many parts of India.
There's nothing quite like a steaming hot dish of dal-chawal (rice and lentils) or dal-roti (rice and flatbread) to nourish the soul as much as the self.
A side dish of vegetables is usualy de rigeur, and balances out the nutritional quotient, wholesomely. But it is sometimes skipped, to save the trouble to both the cook (me, on a lazy day) and the eater (child, in case the veggie is not one of the preferred ones). :D
So dals that are cooked with vegetables already in them, are a quick and easy solution.
In the southern parts of the country, a large variety of dals are regularly made with some vegetables or greens cooked along with them.
This is of course, the best of all the worlds in terms of taste, texture, nutrition, convenience, and popularity.
Dosakaya, or the yellow (melon) cucumber, is a watery, slightly bland vegetable, with a thin peel and numerous seeds in the centre (just like a regular cucumber). The Andhra variety is slightly sour, smooth, round and yellow in colour, though it can be sometimes striped. The version in karnataka (referred to sometimes as Sambar Cucumber) is more bland, rarely sour and usually always striped and/or speckled.
If you can get hold of it, you must also try this dosakaya pachadi, one of my other favorites!
This particular dal tastes far better with the sour, Andhra variety, (and that is how i was introduced to it) though it can be made with any dosakaya. Although sometimes, tamarind is added to compensate for a lack of sourness in the vegetable, we prefer it as it is, even when bland, because it tastes great that way, too.
Tur Dal (Pigeon Pea) - 2 cups, soft-cooked along with salt and turmeric in three times the water.
Dosakaya - 1 pc, peeled, deseeded, and chopped into 1 inch pieces. Taste check to rule out bitterness.
Salt - to taste.
Turmeric - 1/8 teaspoon.
For the tempering -
Oil - 1 teaspoon (any neutral one, preferably cold-pressed, organic. I use groundnut or sesame).
Mustard Seeds - 1/2 teaspoon.
Asafoetida - a pinch.
Dried Red Chillies -1 or 2, broken.
Curry leaves - a sprig.
Cook the yellow cucumber along with salt and a pinch of turmeric in a large pot or pan, with just enough water to slightly cover the pieces. It doesn't take much time. Depending on the size of the pieces, the flame, and softness of the vegetable - it will be done in five to ten minutes. Try cutting a piece with a spoon to check for done-ness. take it off the heat.
Add the cooked dal and give one quick boil together, stirring frequently.
Heat the oil in a tempering ladle, add the mustard seeds, when they start to splutter, add the asafoetida, the red chillies and lastly the curry leaves after switching off the flame. Pout this over the dal and stir it in.
Serve hot with rice or rotis.