On the 8th day on #11daysofdal, I realised how much we have learned about the various uses of dal in the Indian subcontinent. It has been a huge learning and newfound respect towards the most humble ingredient- dal. The 9th day was dedicated towards indigenous dal and I volunteered for motor dal. Motor dal is basically, split yellow peas or half of a dried matar. Although it is not cooked regularly, it is still one of my favourite dals. In summer, we cook motor dal with bottle gourd leaves and stems. However, in winter, we like to celebrate winter vegetables. Hence we cook mulo diye motor dal, which is yellow split pea cooked with radish.
Go Local, Eat Seasonal
We believe in eating local and seasonal as much as possible. Seasonality is pretty much part of Bengali cuisine. We have season-specific recipes with various ingredients. So even shukto, which is cooked round the year, has a different set of vegetables for winter and summer. The same goes for shaker jhol or for that matter the vegetables that we add in dal. In summer, we tend to have bottle gourd or lauki with moong dal. Green mangoes in dal are pretty big in summer. Whereas, winter is predominated with cauliflowers, green peas, radish, broad beans and green onion stalks to name a few. One of the most popular winter dal is sobji diye muger dal cooked with red carrots, cauliflowers and green peas with moong dal.
Whist seasonal is healthy and has numerous benefits, eating local also has its advantages. First and foremost, by eating ‘local’, we are supporting local farmers. And the second most important part being the ingredients are fresh and have more nutritional value.
The simplicity of mulo diye motor dal
Motor dal has a sweetish earthy taste and a mushy consistency. Sometimes, I cannot even figure out the difference between motor dal, chana dal and too dal if kept side by side unless there are name tags. However, the taste of each dal differs. Motor dal takes longer to cook, almost like chana dal, hence it needs to be soaked for a while before cooking. Radish has such a nice pungent flavour that it goes really well in contrast to motor dal. Mulo diye motor dal is a pretty common recipe in Bengali households. Although I think, the tempering of spices might differ from home to home. Also, the way that the radish is cut for this is different. My mother cuts radish into cubes for this dal but my grandmother used to cut it into thin strips, like potato sticks.
In this recipe, I have cut the radish into strips. The only spices that go into this dal are nigella seeds, dried red chilies and turmeric powder. Other than these, there are green chillies, salt and sugar and ghee. Some people add grated ginger to this too but with I like to keep the fragrance of radish intact. Hence the minimal spicing. All you need is a plate of steamed rice to go along with mulo diye motor dal.
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Mulo Diye Motor Dal
- 1/2 cup split yellow peas matar dal/ motor dal
- 1 no radish 1 cup cut into thin strips or cubes
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp nigella seeds kala jeera
- 1 no dried red chili
- 2-3 green chilies
- 1 tsp sugar optional
- 2 tbsp ghee
- salt to taste
- Wash the dal and soak it in hot water for 30 minutes. After that put it in a pressure cooker with 1 and a half cups of water, turmeric powder and salt and boil it for 1 whistle or 10 minutes.
- While the dal is boiling, peel the radish and cut the radish in 2 mm thickness circles. Then stack the circles and cut them into long strips, like potato sticks. If you find this cumbersome, you can cut the radish into quarters. Keep the radish in a bowl of water till the dal is ready to be cooked.
- Once the dal has boiled, open the pressure cooker and keep it aside. If the dal is still holding shape and is a bit tough, don't worry, it will cook further.
- In a kadai, take 1 tbsp of ghee and add 2 dried red chilies when the ghee is hot. Add the nigella seeds. Rub the nigella seeds between your fingers before adding to the oil for greater flavour.
- Now discard the water from the radish and add the radish strips to the kadai.
- On high heat, stir fry the radish. Sprinkle a little bit of salt to help in the cooking process. After a couple of minutes, you can cover and let the radish soften. It doesn't take long if you have cut them into sticks.
- Once the radish has cooked, add the dal to this along with the water from boiling. Keep the heat at high and let the dal boil.
- With the back of your ladle, mash the bottom to get a nice thick consistency.
- Add sugar and check to season. Finally, add ghee and plenty of split green chilies.
- Turn off the heat and serve motor dal with steamed rice.