Hearty Meals look like these – Chana Dal with Pumpkin

They say beauty needs no ornaments and we all know it is true. Someone who is beautiful doesn’t need expensive clothes, make up or jewellery to look good. They could wear the shabbiest of clothes and still their beauty can outshine someone who is better dressed.

Same goes for good food. Although food also has to be visually appealing, something that is really simple and delicious can taste much better then something you spend hours making and then more time in decorating it.

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And this Vegetable dal that I make is something that fits into this category. It is simple, delicious and very healthy but doesn’t look like a fancy restaurant quality dish. I would not serve this when I am hosting an elaborate dinner party, I would serve it when I am cooking for my family. I guess Hearty meals don’t need to look like anything else.

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When you look at this dal you would think it is plain and boring. But when you take the first bite and all the delicate, soft flavors hit your taste buds you know you are eating something that is not plain.

My mother made this dal often and my brother and me would dunk big chunks or pao (Indian buns) in it and eat it. It was one of my options when I used to fall sick as it is a very subtle dal with the only masala in it being Cumin powder so you are not hit with something intensely powerful but something soft and easy on your palate. We also use whole Green and Red Chillies so they can be removed easily if you are serving it to kids.  It is a meal in itself and you don’t need to make anything else to go with it.

I love making a huge bowl of this dal and then we eat it over a period of days as it can stay in the fridge easily for 5 – 6 days without getting spoiled. Try it and tell me what you think, I am sure it will become a huge favorite in your house after you have made it once.

Here is the recipe (cooking time 30 – 40 minutes, serves 6 -8)

2 cups Chana Dal

1 small white Onion finely chopped

1 1/2 cup of diced Pumpkin (I leave the skin on)

3 dry Red Chillies

3 Green chillies

1 ½ tsp Turmeric powder

1 tsp Jeera powder (Cumin powder)

1 tsp Cumin seeds

1 tsp Methi seeds (fenugreek seeds)

1 1/2 tsp freshly grated Ginger (do not use store brought ginger, I usually just grate the Ginger on top of the dal)

Salt to taste

1 tbsp Ghee (non-negotiable)

Freshly chopped Green coriander for garnishing

1)    Wash the dal and pressure cook it with around 5 cups water, some Salt and ½ tsp Turmeric powder for 10 minutes or 6 whistles. The dal has to be half cooked. Let the cooker release all steam before you open it. If you are not using a pressure cooker you will have to cook the dal for longer as Chana dal is a bit tough to cook.

2)    While the dal is cooking in a thick bottomed pan heat the Ghee. Add the cumin and methi seeds. Once they start to splutter add the Red and Green chillies and the chopped Onion and sauté for a few minutes till the Onion has turned translucent.

3)    Add the Pumpkin pieces to this. Cover and cook on a medium flame for 7 – 10 minutes.

4)    Now add the dal, rest of the Turmeric powder, Jeera powder and more Salt to taste. Once the dal has come to a boil reduce the heat and grate the Ginger directly on the dal and sprinkle the freshly chopped Coriander and let it cook till the Pumpkin and dal is done.

If the consistency is too thick add ½ cup of hot water to it. Serve it with some plain boiled rice and you will be a very happy person once the meal is done.