My Mama’s Red Lentils

Mama Jafri the formidable lady who brought me and my four other siblings into this world is a helluva cook. I don’t know how she does it – really I don’t, but that’s largely because she somehow manages to give me only half the ingredients in a recipe. Apparently if I want the full list then I should say something like “Mama, what should I put in it if I want it to be delicious?” She seems to think the standard assumption is that I am aiming for mediocrity.

Anyway, I digress, back to Mama J and her amazing cooking. She is not one for rules, more of the creative sort and to this day I have no idea when or where she got this particular recipe for daal (lentils) from, but it has become a family favourite and it is what I make on the days when I am feeling homesick. On some of those days it tastes exactly like moms.

This daal is characterized by an over the top tanginess which is a result of the double whammy of tomato paste and lemon. The garlic in it also adds a wonderful rich note. The best part is that it actually keeps very well, if anything it gets tastier.

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Chana Daal or Gram Lentils

There is something about daal roti that gives me immense satisfaction. Not daal chawal (rice), but daal roti. Since I am not motivated enough to make fresh roti/bread I frequently buy the kind that comes in a pack of ten and then just heat it over an open flame on a gas stove. As you can see from the picture, I like it a little charred. Does it taste exactly like home? Nope. But it sure is a whole lot easier!

This recipe is one of those that I started making not that long ago. I find it is at its most delicious when I use fresh ginger – hence the grating. It is about a minute more of work – 10 seconds to grate, 50 to wash – but so worth it for the depth that it provides to this daal.

Also please note the super cute grown up measuring cup in the first shot, my friend Aalya gave that to me for my birthday last year, makes even daal seem fancy!

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