Monday, April 5, 2010

Too Much Dal

I'm deep into spring cleaning. Serious spring cleaning, where you not only throw open the windows and scrub and mop and clean windows, but where you dig deep in the back of closets, open the boxes piled in the attic and basement and sort through the junk drawers and catchall bins. And much to Jack's consternation, the agenda includes adding a fresh coat of paint on ceilings, walls and woodwork as we move from room to room. You'd think I'd've done this before hosting my family last summer for our son and daughter-in-law's wedding but better late than never.

I haven't tackled the basement pantry shelves yet. That's Jack's domain because he's the one who gets sent down for a box of pasta or a can of tomatoes or a steamer pot, so he organizes it his own way. This morning, though, as I was passing through, I noticed a large Tupperware tub of ingredients for Indian food. The colors caught my eye and I brought the container up to the kitchen to inventory. In addition to curry powder, garam masala, and a collection of other spices, there were four kinds of dal: chana, masoor, split urad with skins and moong. I've made various kinds of soupy dal using all of them, but it's spring and warm out and isn't there something else I can make with them besides a spicy hot dish?

Turns out there is. I've got a hefty tome by Yamuna Devi called The Art of Vegetarian Indian Cooking, the subcontinent version of Julia Child's opus. On page 573 (of 800 pages) there's something called Dal Munchies or Moong Dalmot. It looked like a perfect change of pace.

Fried Dal

Sort through 1 cup of moong dal and wash in several changes of water until it is clear. Drain, then soak in 4 cups of water and 1 tsp. baking soda for 8 hours or overnight. Rinse, then drain, then pat dry with paper towels and air-dry for 30 minutes.

Heat oil in wok or deep fryer until moderately hot (365 degrees.) Fry 1/4-1/2 cup of dal at a time in a wire mesh strainer just until it floats to the surface. It cooks really fast, so don't overdo it. Drain on paper towels and season with plain salt or any kind of seasoned salt. I used a salt with coriander in it, although you couldn't really taste it. I might try smoked salt next time.
 This is a super-crunchy snack, and you can make it as salty or not as you like. I'm a sucker for salty snacks and with this I can delude myself that it's good for me because it's protein! It was a big hit with drinks before dinner.Be forewarned, though: don't make it if your teeth aren't firmly attached.


  1. Hi, Marce,
    I'm your sister's friend and hence an avid fan of your blog. Now that my vege dau-in-law needs frozen dinners, can you recommend any of your great recipes as most likely to freeze well?

  2. Sorry for the delay in answering; the site doesn't notify me when there's a comment so I'll have to change that.

    I've had success freezing most everything. I have the Boston Baked Beans in the freezer right now, along with the Black Bean Chili. Bean soup also freezes well. I learned recently that I can cook the beans and freeze them plain in their cooking liquid for use in a recipe later, which is a real time saver. I use an old Dazey Seal-A-Meal for this and the sealed bags freeze flat and stack efficiently. If you have cooked beans ready to go most of the recipes can be made in a very short time. Or you can use canned beans but rinse them well first.