Have you ever been told that Punjabis are better built than the average Indian because they include plenty of daal in their daily diet? It may just be a myth that they are stronger than the rest of the country, but should you ever meet my friends, Harbhajan and Harjeet, you wouldn't think so (quite a boisterous couple). Anyway, I assure you that lentils are a rich source of protein, and they are not going to weaken you even if they do not turn you into a muscle (wo)man overnight.
Now that I am off non vegetarian food because of Lent, I find myself including more of lentils in my daily meals. Don't get me wrong, I do not calculate my daily protein, carbohydrate and vitamin needs and plan my meals accordingly. In my case, the chickpeas, kidney beans and pigeon peas are on only because they make great curries and accompaniments to chappathis. That they also make up for my protein requirements is just a happy and accidental bonus.
Let me share my favourite daal recipe with you. This is extremely easy to make and delicious. Team it up with rotis or white rice, raita and pickles (if you are the fussy kind) and you end up with a very satisfying meal.
You will need:
1 cup toor dal/tuvara parippu/yellow pigeon peas
2 dried red chilies
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
2 tablespoon oil
1 onion, finely shopped
8 cloves garlic (the small kind), finely chopped
4 green chilies slit lengthwise
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon red chili powder
2 small tomatoes, finely chopped
3 cups water
1½ tablespoon tomato sauce
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ cup coriander leaves, chopped
To taste, salt
Pressure cook the peas along with water till the peas are completely cooked and mushy. About 4-5 whistles should be enough.
In a pan, heat oil. Add mustard seeds and dried red chilies and let the seeds splutter.
Add onions and sauté till they start to brown. Toss in garlic and green chilies and continue sautéing for a couple of minutes more. Reduce heat and add turmeric powder and red chili powder. Mix in tomatoes and stir till the tomatoes have softened. Stir in the cooked lentils along with some salt and boil for a couple of minutes. If you want the daal to be loose, add some more water. Add tomato sauce, sugar and coriander leaves. Boil for a minute more. Take off heat and serve hot with rotis or white rice.