Living the Good Life…

My food blog & cookbook in progress

Daal

Most Indian cookbooks will have a chapter reserved for daals, often under the heading of “lentils, beans and pulses,” which is not at all surprising when one considers how integral this food group is to the our cuisine. I cannot think of a single region in the country, which does not feature a daal preparation of some sort at lunch and dinner. These preparations vary widely in variety and complexity from the simple, cumin-scented moong daal that graces the North Indian table to the tangy, spicy sambar that is the mainstay of a South Indian Brahmin meal. Daal is one of the major sources of protein for vegetarians (which so many Indians are) but is by no means confined to these kitchens. Some people mix the two proteins – the Parsi community for example has a dish called dhansak which incorporates meat and daal and veges, Bengalis are known to cook their daal with fishheads for flavor, and the Muslim communities have their haleem – daal and wheat and meat-yum .

As a child, I thought daal was boring (silly me!) not even realizing perhaps how many things that I loved actually contained daal in some guise or another. Maturity has its merits, and as a denizen of B-22 I relied heavily on my shelf of daals — it was economical, healthy and often fast. Hey just another way to open a can of beans!

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