by Shumaila

I finally got it!! V had been guarding his lentil recipe all this while. For the uninitiated, V makes this awesome toovar dal (cooked lentils) in the slow cooker. This was the recipe that got him by his bachelor days. And uptil now he wouldn’t tell me how he makes it. He always throws me out of the kitchen whenever he makes it (which has been twice before) so that I don’t get to know his secret recipe (rolling eyes).

Now, for days I had been craving his dal, with some rice. And since the rare occasions that he cooks fall on Sundays and all the previous Sundays we have been out- that craving just kept increasing. Finally, the Sunday that went, V decided to give in to my cravings and set his foot in the kitchen. 🙂

Haha! This picture of V just cracks me up!

Haha! This picture of V just cracks me up!

This time though, he was willing to share his secret!! Well, the opportunity to be featured on my blog- not just in photos but as an actual contributor- that was too big for him to pass on, so he let me in on his secret.

So there I was, with my phone in hand taking down notes and pictures while V explained how his dal is made.

Here’s how to make V’s Crockpot Dal:

What you need for the slow cooker:

  • 1 cup split pigeon peas (toovar dal)
  • 3.5 cups water
  • 3 roma tomatoes, cut in big slices
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • Salt, to taste

Take the dal (split pigeon peas), and wash it properly. Add the water, tomatoes, turmeric and salt. Put the lid on the crockpot and turn it on HIGH. Let cook for 4 hours.

After 4 hours, the lentil should be cooked. Now comes the part that holds the key to the dal being so freakingly good.

The secret to his dal, according to V is the tadka (the tempering of spices).

For the tadka, you need:

  • 3 garlic cloves, cut lengthwise, in slivers
  • 2-3 tbsp ghee (V adds more, I think but, so that I don’t freak out he mentioned a “smaller” amount)
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1-2 tsp red chilli powder

To temper, heat clarified butter (ghee) to a real hot temperature in a saucepan. Add the garlic, fry til they turn brown. Add the cumin, coriander and red chilli powder. (You might want to open a window, because the spices do tend to get into your system). Fry till it looks a little burnt. (I confirmed with V and he said thats how its supposed to be.)

Add the burnt looking tempered spices to the crockpot and quickly close the lid. After a few seconds, lift the lid- with a ladle take out some dal and put in the saucepan used for tempering. Scrape out any remaining spices in the saucepan, and add the liquid back to the crock pot.

Serve it warm with rice and some curd. The dal has a very strong flavor of garlic but I think thats what adds to the beauty of it. 🙂