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The most wonderful feeling after a holiday, for me, is the feeling of being back home. The comfort of one’s own house and one’s routine, even though mundane, is unsurpassable. This year I didn’t take a break from the blog which I usually do around Diwali. Instead, this year, I prepared the posts in advance and kept uploading them from where ever I travelled while meeting friends and family. It so happened that a few weeks before Diwali a friend casually remarked that I take too many breaks from blogging and sometimes I simply disappear from my blog for weeks. I mulled over his words and realised that he was quite right. I have been doing the disappearing act quite often and although most of the times, the ‘breaks’ have been unplanned and unintentional but they do affect my blog and me in the process. The circumstances force me into phases of inaction and then it takes me a few more days to switch on my ‘get into action mode’ button. My target is always to upload five recipes a month and an extra one is a huge bonus; although that rarely happens. And talking about five posts a month, I yet again managed to skip a post scheduled for the 3rd of this month. Some things never changedo they!?

While the weather in north had begun to change with a nip in the air in mornings, here the weather doesn’t go through much change. Nonetheless a bowl of this dal or lentil soup is something that I can have irrespective of the weather being hot, warm or cold. Lentil soups are easy, wholesome, and fast to make; even more so if you pressure cook the lentils. There is something about the sweet and sour flavours of this particular soup which is so compelling that the palate never seems to get gratified. You keep on spooning more and more mouthfuls of it, hoping that this soupy bliss never ends. Perhaps it has got something to do with the pungent earthy flavors of its tempering. Why not try it for yourself and figure it out! You can enjoy it as a soup or the typical Indian way, which is, with a bowl of rice and a side dish. For a change, try pairing it with Papad instead of a loaf of good ol’ rustic bread. You can use what ever tempering you wish to add to this soup. For those who do not like the pungent flavors of garlic can opt for finely chopped shallots and minced ginger.

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½ C Toor Dal/ Arhar Dal (Split Pigeon Peas)

2C Water

¼ tsp Turmeric powder

½ tsp Red Chili powder (adjust heat +/-)

Salt to taste (I used ½ tsp)

1st Tempering:

2 tsp Oil

½ tsp Mustard Seeds

½ tsp Cumin Seeds

¼ tsp Asafoetida Powder (mine isn’t too strong)

7-8 Curry Leaves

½ tsp Coriander Powder

1 tsp, levelled, Tamarind Paste (adjust to taste +/-)

1 tbsp Palm Sugar (Gur Shakkar) or Jaggery (adjust to taste +/-)

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2nd Tempering:

1½ tsp Ghee

1 tsp chopped Garlic

¼ tsp Degi Mirch, optional (to add color to the tempering)

Pick & wash the dal and transfer to a pressure cooker. Put the pressure cooker on stove top, switch on the heat and add water to the dal along with salt, turmeric powder and red chili powder. Allow the dal to come to a boil. Reduce the heat to minimum and fit the lid over the pressure cooker. Cook on low flame for 5 – 7 minutes. Switch off the heat and let the dal sit in the cooker (do not try open the lid) till the pressure has worn off. Open the pressure cooker and mash the dal with the potato masher or back of a big spoon. Keep aside.

For the first tempering: The whole process of tempering will take just a few seconds so keep all the measured ingredients ready with you. Heat oil a small pan and once it begins to get hot, reduce the heat and add asafoetida powder. Bring the heat to medium and add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once they crackle, add the curry leaves (be careful when you add curry leaves as they will splutter oil). Add the coriander powder and cook it only for a second or two since the oil is hot and can burn the coriander powder. Add this to the lentils and stir well.

Add the tamarind (I dilute it with water) and the palm sugar. I strongly advise you add the palm sugar and tamarind little by little so as to adjust the sweetness and sourness according to your taste. The quantity mentioned here is how we like it.

For second tempering: Take ghee in a small pan and heat it. Add the chopped garlic and fry on a low heat till it becomes aromatic. I prefer to turn the garlic golden brown. Switch off the heat and add the degi mirch. Add this to the dal and stir again. (this tempering is visible in the pics) I usually add half of it to the dal and the rest I divide equally to garnish the dal before serving.

Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve hot.

Yield: serves 3

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You may also like to check out these recipes:

 Lauki wali Chana Dal (Split Bengal Gram w/ Bottle Gourd)

Fox Nut Seeds Soup w/ Brown Butter Lentil Tempering

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Thanks for visiting and see you soon again

Yours truly got lucky and won the OCTOBER’S YBR at Nancy’s blog.