Thursday, 23 October 2014

Slow Cooked Maa ki Daal/Black Urad Daal in an Earthen Pot

Saturdays are usually considered to be a not so auspicious day for anything new or good beginning in your life as per Hindu customs. This day God Shani is worshipped by many and it is advised to include something black in your meals and in your dressing to keep him pleased. While my life's most beautiful beginning, my baby, came on a Saturday, I do not actually follow this rule, but for a change I decided to go especially for a Maa ki Daal or Black Urad Daal recipe on a recent weekend to inaugurate my newly procured matki/earthen pot from India. The daal was cooked in the matki from start to finish on a steady low flame and the taste that evolved was simply amazing!! One full matki of daal was polished off neatly by the two of us in just one meal! If you have access to such pots, I would highly recommend you to go get one and try cooking in it. You are sure to love the change in me!!
1 cup black urad daal soaked overnight
1 medium onion chopped
1" piece ginger choped
2-3 big fat cloves of garlic chopped
1 big tomato chopped
2-3 green chillies chopped (add as per taste)
1 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp garam masala powder (add a little more towards the end)
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp red chilli powder 
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 whole red chillies
A big pinch of heeng/asafoetida
Salt to taste
2 tsp oil

Wash and soak the daal overnight. In the morning, rinse it thoroughly and put it in the clay pot. Now add the chopped onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, salt, turmeric, garam masala powder, green chillies, fenugreek seeds, and water sufficient enough for the daal. Place the clay pot on the gas stove and put it on medium high. Once the first boil comes, reduce the flame to minimum, cover the top and let the daal cook till done. Keep stirring every 30 minutes or so and about every 10 minutes towards the end to avoid sticking. Be careful that the water does not boil over the top and keep adding additional warm/hot water whenever needed. Overnight soaked daal takes about 2 hours to get cooked in this method. So if you are serving for lunch, you should start the process first thing in the morning and let it cook at its own pace. 
Once the daal is almost done (about 30 minutes before the finishing line), add the milk and stir and cook till done. Now heat oil in a pan and crackle the cumin seeds. Add chilli powder, whole red chillies, and heeng and swirl for a few seconds. Add this to the daal and keep covered until served. One word of caution while using the clay pot after the cooking is done is to either let it remain on the gas stove till completely cooled down or keep it on a stand or jute mat till completely cool it comfortable to the touch. Keeping it directly on the kitchen counter might result in cracks or breakage and spoil the entire dish. 
Once cooled, you can transfer it to your desired serving bowl or serve it directly from the matka! Enjoy with hot steamed rice and/or chapati!


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