Ma Chole ki Dal

Ma Chole ki Dal

‘Ma-chole ki dal’ is a North Indian (most commonly prepared in Punjab) lentil dish that is made with split black lentils(split urad dal) and split Bengal gram lentils (Chana dal). Although I have tried various combinations of mixed dals, this one is my favorite so far. It is certainly a lighter version of the most popular black lentil preparation – ‘Dal Makhani’ and yet so creamy that you cannot tell that it is not as rich in calories. It also reminds me of the typical Punjabi dal my mom used to make every few weeks when we were little. She would serve this with roti and her signature cottage cheese dish – shaahi paneer. In India, different types of lentils and dals are considered as staple foods and add nutrition to a vegetarian menu. I think we ate a different dal curry or a dal dish pretty much every day. Even today a simple dal curry with rice is one of my favorite foods.

Recently, I tried making this dal in my slow cooker and it came out very well. These days, Slow cooking is my favorite form of cooking for all the flexibility it gives me and the ease with which I can make most tedious dishes with so little effort. Not to forget, the dishes taste great and are comparatively lower in fat than the ones prepared on stove top. Slow cooking has actually made cooking Indian curries so easy that anyone with absolutely no cooking experience can make great Indian curries. Here is the recipe for the nutritious, creamy, fragrant, mixed lentils dal curry:

You Need:

3/4 cup split Black lentils (split urad dal)
3/4 cup split Bengal Gram lentils (Chana dal)
1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
3 large tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp Mango powder
2 tbsp oil (I used Canola)
2 tsp MDH Kitchen King Masala (optional, alternately you can increase the quantity of cumin powder and coriander powder)
4.5 cups water
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
Fresh coriander leaves for garnishing (optional)
For Tempering
1 tbsp oil or ghee
A pinch of Asafoetida powder
1 tsp cumin seeds

Directions:

1. Mix both lentils and wash thoroughly
2. Soak in water for about an hour or two
3. Put lentils, onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, all spices, salt and 3 cups of water in a slow cooker or ca Crockpot. I used a 6 qt, you can use smaller as well as it did not fill it up.
4. Cook on high setting for 3 hours, Stir and sort of mash the lentils with a ladle for a minute.
5. Add 1.5 cups of water and cook on low setting for 6 hours.
7. Check the consistency – if needed add little bit if boiling water towards the end.
8. Prepare tempering- in a small pan heat the ghee or oil. Add Asafoetida powder and cumin seeds and wait for them to splutter- takes about 20-30 seconds. Add the tempering to the dal and mix well.

Adjust spices and salt if needed. I usually do not make most of my dishes with red chilies or even green chilies. That way my son can eat same dishes as we do. If you need to increase hotness – feel free to add some powdered red chilies and green chilies while cooking or add some powdered black pepper while serving. This dal can be made in a pressure cooker (traditional Indian style or stove top, but that is more laborious than my simple slow cooking.
Enjoy with rice or rotis and a side of vegetable or cottage cheese dish.