Uddina Kaalu Tovve /Kaali daal/Maa ki dal

When I read about people protesting globalization at WTO and other events I smile! They do have legitimate concerns, agreed and their concerns need to be addressed too. But the militant types really baffle me. All right corporate expansion, profit mongering is one side of globalization, but what about ideas? what about food? We Indian have always been at the forefront of global exchange of products, ideas and of course food for millenniums now. It was an accepted way of life to appreciate knowledge where ever it came from. It is just the past few centuries that we lost ourselves and we were so alien to what our forefathers saw millenniums ago. How many of us now know about pizza? what about Taco? Early in my childhood the only Pizza that was available in Mysore was in Krishna Bakery, Modern kids would not even recognize it as pizza. They would call it an unidentified object, circular in shape with some tomato Palya on top and mind you no sign of cheese (even if it did, it was not immediately recognizable) But today every single kid knows Pizza and the intricate differences between the various styles, just like they know their Dosa.  Tacos! I had never heard of them as a kid. I had read in Tinkle Digest that in Mexico they make unleavened bread like our Rotis called Tortilla but Taco sounded more like gibberish. Now every one knows about Taco. Pasta, Cal-zone,  fried chicken, noodles etc etc the list goes on. We have incorporated so many foreign foods and made it our own. This is indeed the best part of globalization. We incorporate new ideas while making it our own. Though I cannot but look at the irony when I shopping at a local Patel store in New Jersey almost always end up picking up Sujata brand wheat flour, made by the 'Evil' General Mills head quartered somewhere in the American heart land, in the wheat basins of India and sent to this side of Atlantic in huge container ships! I click my tongue and say "Ah! globalization".

When I see this side of the coin clearly, I end up appreciating the other side of the coin better. We do learn new things but we are equally good at retaining part of our old established knowledge. For instance  whole urad dal is one of the native crops in India. It has been mentioned in ancient Kannada texts and has been used to make Idlis for more than a 1000 years now! So we have indeed retained and refined older knowledge to this day. Though I rather cannot imagine following the original known recipe for Idli, soaking whole Urad in buttermilk, grinding, fermenting, seasoning and steaming it as Idli. The end product looking rather dark grey and definitely not as light and fluffy as their modern counterparts.  So being one of the oldest pantry ingredient it is therefore not surprising that Urad dal finds it's way into a lot of yummy dishes, including this simple rendering.

This is a simple dal. The Urad dal when cooked till it falls apart makes this dish very earthy, hardy and festive. I love it. So here is Maa ki dal

We will need,

Whole Urad dal 1/3 cup
Rajma (optional) a handful
Ginger 1/2" +1 "
Hing a dash

For the Oggarane
Ghee 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Jeera 1/2 tsp
Fennel 1/4 tsp
Garlic 4 cloves

Onion 1 small chopped
Chilly powder 1 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Dhania powder 1/2 tsp
Tomatoes 3-4 chopped
Salt to taste
Coriander chopped

  • Pick and clean the Urad and Rajma(if using) and wash it with several changes of water. Soak it in generous quantity of water overnight.
  • Drain the dal and wash it again in several changes of water. Throw it in a pressure cooker along with 3 cups of water, 1/2" ginger (slightly crushed) and hing. Cook till the urad dal falls apart. (about 3-4 whistles in my pressure cooker). Remove from heat.
  • Prepare the Oggarane. Heat the ghee in a wok and throw in the mustard seeds, Jeera and fennel. Once they stop sizzling throw in the onion. Saute till the onions are translucent. 
  • Coarsely crush the remaining ginger and garlic and throw into along with the onions. Saute for a brief minute. Throw in all the spice powers and  the tomatoes. 
  • Cook the mixture till tomatoes turn pulpy. Remove from heat.
  • Once the pressure cooker is cool enough to handle, combine the cooked dal mixture and the onion mixture. Heat the mixture, adjust salt and  add the fresh coriander. Add more lemon juice if the dish is not tart enough.
  • Serve hot with rice.

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