Spring may have been slower than expected this season, but after those dreary winters that had pretty much confined me indoors, watching the sun raise up in the morning and gleam till dusk, even though it may be quite occasional, gives me some hope that this month will be bright and cheerful with spring in its full bloom. The patches of dry twigs and fallen leaves have given way to fresh grass sprouts and tender new leaves. The black and white canvas has transformed to vibrant shades of green and blooming colors of spring. All I wish to do right now is shed my winter wears away and make way for lighter clothing, which seems to be distant at the moment. The weather Gods have been quite temperamental and the mercury still shows in single digits. With infrequent sunshine interspersed with drizzles, showers and windy chills, I think we may have to wait for that sunshine and warmth a little longer.
As the drizzles trickle down my window panes, there's nothing much I can do, but to wait and watch till the pours go away. Instead I sip this moth ki dal with steaming hot rice. I love the spice that makes it perfect for the cold weather. It's just so comforting.
Moth bean that's the heart of this dal is also popularly called as Matki. Though it's traditionally consumed for breakfast, after being sprouted and cooked, I use this dal often to accompany our main course meals, pairing them well with rice, rotis or puris. They have a taste and texture quite similar to that of moong, but they cook faster making it my preferred choice. It's spicy and soupy. This dal is a comforting dish for any winter or rainy day.
Moth ki Dal
1 cup moth beans
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2-3 small pods garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp. grated ginger
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 medium sized tomatoes, pureed (finely chopped also works great for more chunky textured gravy)
1 green chilli, finely sliced
2 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. red chilli powder
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. garam masala
Salt to taste
Chopped coriander leaves, for garnish
Wash and soak the moth beans overnight or atleast 6-8 hours. Drain the water from soaked beans. You may either proceed with the recipe or choose to sprout them further for a day or two. To prepare the dal, pressure cook the soaked moth bean in 3 cups of water along with 1/2 tsp each of turmeric and salt for 3-4 whistles. Allow the pressure cooker to cool down completely. Meanwhile prepare the gravy for the dal. Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan. Add cumin seeds and allow them to splutter briefly. Next add in garlic and ginger and fry them for another 30 seconds on medium high heat. Then add the chopped onions and fry till they turn golden brown. Add the chopped green chilly and fry another few seconds. Next add the tomato puree (or chopped tomatoes, in case using) and fry till the oil oozes from the edges. Now add in the spice powders, the coriander powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder, garam masala and a dash of sugar. Stir well and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked moth along with a cup of water*. Bring the dal to a rolling boil and adjust the salt to taste. Remove from heat and garnish with chopped fresh coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice / phulkas / puris.
* Water can be increased or decreased depending on the consistency of the gravy you prefer.
* Sugar is optional, but I prefer adding a dash of it as it neutralizes the salt, the spices and tang.
* I like to add either lemon juice or amchur (mango powder) at times when there isn't enough sourness from tomatoes. This is just optional.
* I generally use vegetable oil for cooking our day to day recipes, however a dash of ghee / clarified butter enhances the taste of this dal. Skip if you choose to keep it vegan.