Friday, March 19, 2010

Dal Fry Under Pressure

As in many Indian kitchens, my kitchen is presided over by a large and noisy beast- my pressure cooker. If there is one appliance that will pay for itself many times over in terms of time, energy and money savings, this is it.

Walking around typical neighborhoods in India around 11 AM in the morning, it is common to hear hissing, shrieking and whistling noises made not by people but by pressure cookers, as lunch is cooked in homes everywhere. Many people who are quite adept at handling sharp knives, whirring food processors and red-hot ovens are scared of using pressure cookers. In fact, pressure cookers have safety devices built into them and will result in no more accidents than any other appliance. Famous last words?

The one and only pressure cooker we currently own was bought by V some 5-6 years ago and is a Prestige Handi-shaped hard anodized pressure cooker. The handi (this shape; like a pot) is cute as a dumpling and certainly very roomy, but the one distinct disadvantage is that it does not hold the conventional stacked cooking vessels that allow you to cook multiple different things at the same time. I end up using my pressure cooker almost every day, for beans and lentils, lentil-rice combos, soups and for cooking potatoes.

Pressure cookers have very distinct personalities. It is difficult to specify cooking times with pressure cookers because each one seems to have a mind of its own. You just have to get to know your own cooker and estimate its cooking times for various dishes. My pressure cooker is efficient to a fault. Things get overcooked in it in the blink of an eye. I soaked and cooked lima beans the other day to make an eggplant-lima bean subzi (one of my favorite combos) and my pressure cooker steamed the lima beans to a liquid mush in just one whistle. I sighed, poured in some tempering into the soupy lima beans and called it a dal instead.

Today I'm posting a recipe that I learned from Crazy Curry. Bhags of Crazy Curry is not posting lately, but I sure thank her mentally every time we enjoy this tasty dal. Read her original post to learn about the origin of this dal and why she calls it the "Bachelor tadka dal". Since trying it, Kitchen King masala has a permanent place in my spice cabinet. When I made it last night, I snuck in a lone eggplant that I needed to use up, but the recipe below is the dal in its pure, unadulterated form.

Tadka Dal
(adapted from this recipe on Crazy Curry)

1. Rinse 1 cup toor dal several times, soak for 20-60 minutes if you have the time.

2. In the body of a pressure cooker, heat 1-2 tbsp. ghee.

3. Temper it with
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds

4. Add 1 medium onion, cut into thin slices and fry until translucent.

5. Add
12 tsp. turmeric
12 tsp. red chilli powder
1 heaped tsp. Kitchen King masala
3 chopped tomatoes
Salt to taste

6. Add the toor dal and 4 cups water. Pressure cook.

7. Add a generous handful of minced cilantro. Serve with jeera rice or parathas.

I'm sending this over to my own event, Blog Bites, where this month is all about cookers. There's a few more days left to participate, if you'd like to send in an entry.

Guessing Game

What's cooking? Take a guess!


  1. I completely agree. I have 3 pressure cookers in 3 different sizes and one of them is a handi too...the handi one is very very handy for one pot meals...the other ones can totally multitask...dal, rice, potatoes all done in 3 whistles. Cant imagine life without it!!!

  2. good recipe Nupur. And i think they are noodles (spaghetti) cooking in the pan. Am I right?

  3. hmmm, maybe you are dyeing wool ??

  4. hi,must be noodles or sevaiyan

  5. hi,must be noodles or sevaiyan

  6. looks like yarn/wool to me :)

    kitchen king masala is a nice touch in the dal fry recipe, will try it next time.

  7. I am going start using my pressure cooker again- I think I've wasted way too much time recently, cooking chana dal in the microwave and coaxing rajma to cook on the also contemplating getting another rice cooker.

    And the picture- are you making vermicelli kheer..?? though it does look like wool as people have mentioned..:)

  8. My favorite thing to cook in a pressure cook would be dal! So handy!

  9. You are making sev for falooda, with cornstarch. this is the way they teach in catering schools in mumbai. the batter is pressed in ice cold water so that they do not form a lump. They why they are in swimming in a bowl.

  10. I've 3 pressure cookers and 1 handi shaped cooker, so a total of 4 cookers. I can't imagine cooking without a pressure cooker.
    Are u dyeing yarn??

  11. Your pressure cooker is really very cute. I finally got one about 18 months ago and I love it for quick-cooking dried beans and soups.

    I think this sounds good, but I have to confess I'm not entirely sure what toor dal is?

  12. I lived without apressure cooker for about a whole year when i first came to the US..i just cannot imagine how i did that!!

    Kitchen King masala is there on my grocery list for the week..ive been reading about it in many places and want to have one in my pantry too!

  13. I know exactly what you mean. I cook some of the beans on the stove top which is totally against character because of my love for the pressure cooker but soupy beans are no fun.

    I have tried Kitchen King Masala. I use my trusted sambhar powder instead.

  14. Hi Nupur I think the soaking of beans and its quality causes the inconsistency. The cooker is mostly consistent in the performance though it may vary from brand to brand and model to model. It does take a few days to get to know your cooker:)

    I have one 10 litre for weekend cooking as that's when I cook a lot almost 6 meals and one 2litre for weekdays. All my ras bhaajis are made in the cooker and stir fries in a wok.

    With a pressure at hand my poLi bhaaji meals OR Varan Bhaat meals are made in 30 mins flat!

  15. Hi Nupur.
    Pressure cooked dal is always my saviour in my hurried times. I am a big fan of Hawkins Futura and have 3 of them in various sizes. I find cooking in pressure cooker convenient and saves LPG too.
    I have a feeling that it's falooda.

  16. Hi Nupur
    This Bachleor tadka dal is one of my favourite since the time u blogged abt it and i followed it to Bhags' blog...
    Its simple to make and amazingly tasty....even i had never used Kitchen King Masala before it is one of the staple masales we use in our kitchen....
    Guess what...we just make the dal last night and i was planning to blog abt it and send it to ur event :))) Guess the saying is true...Great Minds Think Alike :))
    will try to think and send another one for your event .......

  17. Hi Nupur, After months of lurking on your blog and trying out so many recipes from it I'm finally here to tell you that IF I become a food blogger the inspiration would be u.
    And yes the pic is of KESAR FALOODA right?

  18. Doesn't look like a food item to me. It looks like wool. Is it?

  19. And that looks like falooda :)

  20. Hmmm... I make my dal in the cooker... some people look down on that method :)

    and I have 5 cookers (pans/cookers) that my mom gifted me over the years. :) And I couldn't do without any one of them :)

  21. Hi
    Yes,Iam a huge fan of pressure cooker too..and yes I've had soupy lima beans too..
    I think what you are cooking is either wool or spaghetti squash...

  22. I was thinking spaghetti at first and then reading through the guesses I saw Milli's and thought, of course - KoolAid and wool! I can't wait to hear about it Nupur!

  23. Love that dal. I need to get kitchen king masala. i have never used it.

    Guessing it is falooda sevai.. or may be I am wanting some now with kulfi.

  24. I admit I'm afraid of pressure cookers, ever since I saw one explode in my grandmother's kitchen decades ago. I know that the new ones have all kinds of safety features, but I still can't bring myself to try one.

  25. I have 2 pressure cookers - one big and one small and then one pressure pan which I use for direct cooking. The other two I never use without vessels in it since I have a horror of something reacting with the metal...

    The picture seems to be rice vermicelli?

  26. Kanchana Shekhar- Good for you, 3 pressure cookers is a nice collection! And no, that's not instant sevai.

    Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal- No, I'm afraid they are not noodles.

    Milli- You got it :) wow, I'm impressed!

    R- Yes, it is wool. By the way, you don't have to type your whole blog address into the comment; your name links to your blog already so please avoid typing an extra URL in the comment.

    Lavanya- No, not vermicelli kheer :) and yes, I think it would save much time, labor and energy to slowly start using your cooker again and get over the fear.

    Divya Vikram- I agree, dal is something I eat on a daily basis, and I can't imagine cooking it any other way.

    Anonymous- I wish I was making sev for falooda! But I am not :)

    Pavani- Yup, I am dyeing yarn indeed!

    Kalyn- I've seen all the pressure cooker recipes on your blog! Toor dal is split pigeon peas. This is a type of lentil that you would not find in regular supermarkets but is easily available wherever Indian groceries are sold.

    Superchef- I brought a pressure cooker from India in my luggage when I first started school in the US :)

    indosungod- Yes, I'm resigned to cooking some of my quick cooking beans on the stove top when I need them to be intact! Kitchen King masala is no match for sambar masala but I like using both in different dishes.

    Anjali- That's what I meant, that pressure cookers vary from model to model, not that one particular cooker is inconsistent. Perhaps I did not express myself properly. I meant that if a recipe specifies to pressure cook for 3 whistles does not mean that it will need 3 whistles in my cooker, it might need more or less time.
    I agree, simple meals are made in 30 minutes plus most of the time you can relax while the cooker does its thing :)

    Rujuta- Feel free to blog about it then! There's no problem at all with the same recipe being sent in twice. Yes, two great minds, you and me ;)

  27. Pari- It is so nice to have 3 different sizes for different uses. No, I wish it was falooda but it is not!

    Manisha- No :)

    Vaishali- Thanks for delurking. And no, it is not kesar falooda.

    Amruta- Yes, you are right- it is wool.

    Raaga- Why on earth do people look down on cooking dal in the cooker? I actually don't know a single soul that cooks dal any other way. 5 cookers, OK the prize goes to you. Not falooda :)

    GKB- So you're hedging your bets by guessing two things? One of them is right :)

    Shirley- I think you're right!

    Cathy- LOL I finally broke out the kool-aid :D Yes, I'll tell you all about it. It was easy peasy.

    Soma- I want some falooda right this minute too, since everyone is talking about it! But that's not what it is :)

    Lydia- With the amount of cooking you do, you could really use a pressure cooker! C'mon, try one, I dare ya :D

    Miri- Hmm. But is the metal different from the metal used for other cookware?

  28. i love my pressure cooker too, but recently i think the rice cooker is taking over; but still for cooking beans pressure cooker is a life saver. this daal looks so delicious. i would say its spaghetti squash, is it?

  29. I love my pressure cooker too, I generally cook daal, potatoes, khichadi in it:)
    That looks like spaghetti noodles :)

  30. I make Dal the same way but cook it and then add to the temoering but this is faster so will try it the next time.

    I was going to guess that it is orange coloured shenvai but I see that the answer is quite different :)

  31. Are you making Vermicelli Upma :-)?

  32. Hi Nupur,
    Curious to know: is there any specific advantage of the handi shape compared to the more common cylindrical one?

  33. I am hoping I will be able to try this one before BlogBites gets over !!!

  34. Yes, those pressure cookers and their personalities!
    I don't use mine as much as I wish I could because Lucy has a near-heart-attack each time it starts to whistle :) But it is hard to substitute it-- I microwave the lentils sometimes and they are just not as tender. And boiling them on the stove-top just takes too long.
    The dal looks divine.

  35. I have feeling you are dyeing wool using turmeric. If yes, wont the color leach away with washes?

  36. Lovely Dal. I was a great fan of Bhagyashri's blog but somehow she disappeared rfom the blogging world. I can't imagine a day without my cooker. And there is a unique way of cooking toor dal/ Generally no soaking recmmended as they say it becomes numb and will not cook properly. I usually cook toor dal with turmeric, hing and a spoon of gingelly oil. It imparts a wonderful flavour and the dal will not rise and spill if u use oil.

  37. I really love to put my meat on the pressure cooker to make them really smooth / soft to eat, It's not that difficult to cook in the pressure cooker if your spice rack has the basic herbs and spices. Just add them all in the cooker and then the game is on.


Thanks for leaving a comment- I try to respond to every single one.