This recipe has a special memory in my mind. Years ago (1998 to be precise) I was living in New Jersey with my husband’s cousin. I was pregnant and we had gone for a walk with cousin R and her two kids. We came back from our walk and realized no one had the house keys (This was before texting and cell phones- ancient, I know) so cousin R phoned her husband from a neighbor’s phone. He couldn’t come home in the middle of the day from New York of course so R had to think of a way for us to spend the time till 5.30 pm. Problem was her two kids were hungry and so was I and I was pregnant too which did not help matters. I also knew no one there as we had just moved from London! R thought of one of her friends in the neighborhood so that’s where we went. Luckily the friend’s mum was visiting from India and she made this dal which, I’m not ashamed to say I slurped up with ardent fervor. I’ll remind y’all I was eating for two (haha not really as I had just found out I was carrying). Anyhoo, this dal was simple but full of flavor. They had grown some pumpkin greens in their backyard and just boiling the dal with the greens and green chilies with a bit of salt and turmeric seasoning was all it needed. I honestly cannot remember if she used onions too but I always like red lentils with onions so I added that too here. And of course, the piece de résistance -the mustard oil to serve is a must. This is an authentic Bengali recipe that is both delicious and nutritious. Do try it! @sarchakra
PREP TIME: 10 mins
COOK TIME: 20 mins
YIELDS: Serves 4-5
- Red lentils (masoor dal) 1 cup
- Squash greens (kumro Shaag) 2 cups
- Ginger 1 tbsp, grated
- Turmeric 2 tsp
- Onion ½, chopped
- Green chilies 2
- Mustard oil for serving
- Wash greens thoroughly in water changing the water a few times to make sure no grime or grit remains. Chop greens into small pieces. Keep aside.
- Rinse dal a few times till the water runs clean. Put dal in a pan with 3 cups of water. Put in greens, salt, turmeric, chilies and chopped onions. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook the dal. Skim away any foam rising at the top of the dal.
- When the dal is nearly ready add grated ginger. Cook for a few more minutes. Use a fork to press the dal gently to test its doneness.
- Serve with a generous drizzle of mustard oil. This is best eaten with some basmati or govindhabhog rice and Kumro phool bhaja.
The froth that rises when boiling pulses is basically proteins coming out. Apart from looking unsightly it also traps air bubbles in the water, which makes the beans or lentils harder to cook. So if you want to, go ahead and skim it but it is not absolutely necessary.