On a warm sunny afternoon, amidst laughter, conversation and cheer, I first tasted panchmel dal in a family friend's home. Hailing from Rajasthan, Sulochana aunty served the panchmel dal alongside freshly roasted baati (Rajasthani wholewheat breads) and basmati rice. A spicy bitter gourd vegetable, pickle, farm fresh radish and chaas were the other accompaniments.
But let us talk about the highlight of today's dish- the panchmel dal. Also known as panchratna dal, meaning dal made with 5 different types of dal, this dish packs in so much nutrition, flavor and comfort all in one simple bowl.
Relatively easy to make, this dal can be made with whatever dals are there on hand. Traditionally panchmel dal is made with red gram dal, black gram dal, green gram dal, Bengal gram dal and moth dal. But this dal can be made with a combination of many different dals. At times I like to make this dal even using 3 different kinds of dals.
A meal consisting of dal and rice is one of the most traditional aspects pertaining to an Indian meal. Different cultures across the subcontinent have varieties of recipes to make a tasty and fulfilling plate of dal and rice.
Dal and rice also happens to be one of the healthiest ways to meet the nutritional requirements of a vegetarian. And the best part is that this is easily accessible to everyone, is cheap and one doesn't have to slave for hours in front of the stove to put a meal of dal and rice together.
Dal in different forms has always been one of my most favourite dishes to eat ever since my childhood and I probably owe my great haemoglobin count to the fact that I eat dal, almost every day!
Panchmel dal is a beautiful combination of dals coming together to create a soul satisfying meal filled with the essence of all the taste and nourishment that comes from this nutritious mix of ingredients.
I hope you will make this dal a part of your menu, be it for a simple everyday meal or as a part of an Indian meal for a get together.
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Panchmel Dal | Panchratna Dal Recipe
A melange of different varieties of dals, simmered with spices.
5 cups water
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 to 4 cloves
1" piece cassia (dalchini)
1 tsp cumin seeds
¾ tsp yellow asafetida powder
4 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 or 2 slit green chilies
3 large or 4 small tomatoes, pureed
2 tbsp coriander powder
½ to ¾ tsp red chili powder
1 tsp garam masala powder (optional)
2 ½ to 3 tsp salt or to taste
extra water, if required
cherry tomatoes (optional)
Wash all the dals in a large colander and place them in a bowl or any utensil with a lid. Pour enough water to cover the dals nicely and allow the dals to soak in all the water overnight or for 7 to 8 hours.
Drain the excess water off the dals and place the dals in a pressure cooker. Add 5 cups water, the turmeric and pressure cook until the first whistle. After the first whistle, turn down the heat and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. After the dals are cooked, turn off the heat and allow the pressure to come down.
In a large wok or pan, heat the oil. Once the oil is hot, put in the whole spices, cloves, cassia and cumin seeds and stir until the cloves puff up and the cumin seeds are golden. Make sure that the cumin seeds don't turn black.
Into the sizzling spices, add the tomato puree and turn down the heat. Put in the coriander powder, red chili powder and cook until the tomato puree absorbs all the flavours from the spices, about 7 to 8 minutes.
Stir in the cooked dal, add the salt and extra water if required and mix well.
Put in the optional garam masala and finish with fresh coriander. You can also saute some cherry tomatoes and place them over the dal for extra flavor and colour.
- You can use a mixture of different kinds of dals you have on hand.
- If you have not soaked the dal overnight, you can use split dal and/or other quick cooking dals
- Use a variety of different kinds of dals to see what you or your family like the most.
- I do not use garam masala powder for my regular cooking and reserve it for use occasionally.
- Use fresh spices for more flavor.
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