The first thing I thought to cook in the big beautiful black stoneware pot was Urad Dal. I bought some this summer at an Indian grocery store. They’re beautiful, tiny, black ovoid lentils. They need to cook for a loooooong time, on a looooooow heat. And then they turn out delcious! I matched them with black-eyed peas, because they both have an earthy flavor, and because I liked the little black beans with white spots, and the larger white beans with black spots. I seasoned them with allspice, ginger, cardamom, coriander and basil. Bright and sweet – to go with the earthy. And I cooked them in butter, because Dal Makhani, the traditional urad dal dish, is cooked with butter, yogurt and cream, and I wanted to give a nod to that. Turned out yummy! I cooked it for 6 hours on high, and I think it would have been done an hour earlier, but I wasn’t home. Very tasty with basmati rice and cauliflower in a spicy cashew-almond sauce. It’s not the prettiest dish you’ve ever made, but if you stir in some chopped tomatoes and cilantro at the end, it will have a bit of color and fresh flavor.
This was fun to make in a slow cooker, because I could leave the house with minimal fear of burning it down. But I’ve also cooked urad dal on a low burner for 5 hours, and that’s worked, too. So if you don’t have a slow cooker…don’t despair.
Of course it’s got to be Slow and Low by the Beastie Boys. That is the tempo!!
Pick over, rinse, and drain, one cup of urad dal and 1/2 cup of black-eyed peas. Put them in a pot with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, shut the heat off. Cover the pot. Leave for two hours.
2 cloves garlic
1 t. worth of fresh ginger.
Put these in a food processor and make them into a paste. Or chop them all very finely.
In the basin of your slow cooker (or in a big soup pot) combine…
The soaked urad dal and black-eyed peas & the water they soaked in
the Shallot garlic paste
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/4 t. allspice
1/4 t. coriander
1 t. basil
3 cardamom pods (remember not to eat these!)
4 T. butter
1/2 t. tamarind concentrate, or the equivalent amount of tamarind paste
1 t. brown sugar
salt & pepper
Stir it altogether. Program your slow cooker for 5 hours on high. You can check it every few hours and give it a stir. After five hours, if it seems done…continue to the end. If not, program another hour. If you don’t have a slow-cooker, put it all in a big soup pot, put it on a burner on low, and watch and stir for about 5 hours. You might need to add water from time-to-time, in this scenario.
When the beans and lentils seem soft, add a teaspoon or two of lemon juice. At this point you can puree a ladle-full or two of beans, or leave them all whole.
Now you make a tadka…you warm a tablespoon or more of olive oil in a small pan. Add a finely chopped shallot, a half-teaspoon of cumin, and a shake of red pepper flakes. When it’s all sizzly, pour it into your lentils and mix well.
At this point you can add a fresh, diced tomato and some chopped cilantro, to lend a pleasant color to this drab but flavorful dish.
Serve with basmati rice.