First of all, THANK YOU for the overwhelming response to the first post in this series and the warm welcome to us. We’ve thrilled beyond words and overwhelmed with all the love and encouragement.
This week, we’re exploring a pantry staple and sharing two recipes – one that’s something new and one that we have made over and over again many times. The star ingredient this week is Chana Dal/Split Chickpeas/Kadalai Paruppu.
Growing up, I didn’t have a great liking for chana dal because it was mostly used in kootu or payasam with jaggery, both of which I wasn’t fond of. So naturally, I didn’t use it much in cooking except for tadka or making podis. However, all this changed when I had Dal Chana at a popular Pakistani restaurant here in Dubai.
When we ordered it the first time, at this place that served predominantly non-vegetarian food, we assumed it would be some sort of chana (chickpeas) masala dish. We were hugely surprised when we were given a chana dal dish. With their signature and right out of the oven tandoori rotis – each one of which is easily twice the size of my face – it was a meal we devoured and instantly fell in love with and frequently went back to after.
I tried recreating it at home with the help of an ex-colleague of mine who’s a Pakistani and was kind enough to share her family recipe for the same.
I’ve since made some minor alterations to get it as close to the one that we enjoy at the restaurant and this is that version.
This goes really well with tandoori rotis and a simple salad. This also tastes great with rice. Or if you’re like me, you can eat a bowl of this as is with or without some curd/yogurt.
Moving on to the next recipe, this one’s a South Indian gravy of sorts made with chana dal/kadalai paruppu called Thanikootu. The speciality of this kootu is that it tastes great with any cooked vegetable.
All you have to do is to make this gravy, cook vegetables of your choice with little salt (the country ones taste best) & mix with sufficient thanikootu.
This is like the standard north indian bhuna masala paste. This is predominantly made in Thanjavur (Tanjore) tambrahm households especially during domestic functions like Sumangali Prarthanai (a ritual to honor ancestral elder women in the family).
This tastes great with brinjal, broad beans, ash gourd, cluster beans and raw banana. If you do not add the coconut in the tadka, this can be refrigerated for about a month. You can add roasted coconut later when using the kootu.
The original recipe (which was passed on to my amma by my aththai/aunt – dad’s sister) does not require coconut and this is a twist added by amma and she highly recommends it. Another tip that she shared is to add some Byadagi or Kashmiri chillies to the mix to get better colour.