Taste and Create VII – Toovar Dal

Taste and Create

In an attempt to get some more cooking inspiration, I signed up for Taste and Create VII. The idea of Taste and Create is you are randomly paired up with another food blog, find a recipe listed on their site, make the recipe, and blog about it. I thought it would be a great way to try something new and get a little more involved in the community. For my first T&C I was paired up with Food and Laughter.

Torval Dal ingredients

Food and Laughter is a blog mostly about Indian food. I find this fascinating because Indian food is something that I don’t usually cook but often eat out at restaurants. My lack of experience with this cooking style made this event even more exciting. The Eater and I checked out the site and decided to make a dish called Toovar Dal.

My first reading of this recipe I was a little bit overwhelmed with all the ingredients that weren’t familiar to me. I was worried that I was going to have to special order these ingredients and wouldn’t be able to finish the dish in time. After a little bit of research I found out that many of these ingredients just have different names in different parts of the world. Here’s some examples and what I did with the ones I couldn’t find:

toovar dal – Pigeon Peas
chana dal – Chick Peas
jaggery – a type of Palm sugar. I substituted regular light brown sugar here.
jeera – cumin

I didn’t have any real sources for these two:

kokum – this is similar to tamarind so I substituted chopped raisins
asafoetida ( heeng) – I had no ideas for this one, so I omitted it.

Popping mustard seeds

Cooking this dish was pretty exciting. The sights and sounds of the popping mustard seeds was something I was not expecting; they really pop and go everywhere. The dish came together quickly and quite nicely, there were no surprises after the mustard seeds. I opted for both dals but skipped the yams because I felt like it. I also decreased the spice level a bit because I was afraid it may be too spicy for the eater.

While I’ve never had this dish before, I don’t feel like my substitutions adversely affected the dish. In my mind, a large part of cooking is being able to adapt recipes to ingredients that you have on hand without sacrificing results. I’m sure I broke some sort of rules, but both the eater and I thought the dish was a keeper, as-is.

Torval Dal

The pigeon peas really are the star in this dish lending a nice, subtle sweetness. The peanuts added a bit of a surprise crunch that I was not expecting even after cooking this dish myself. This really is a good dish, sweet, tangy, spicy, and a little sour, pretty much everything I wanted in a dish. I served up the dal with some long grain rice. I opted for a little extra spice on mine in the form of red pepper which worked out nicely.

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