Photo by Faryal Diwan
Photo by Faryal Diwan

Nothing beats having daal chawal on a tiring day — unless it’s daal, chawal and achaar. The ultimate comfort food, there are as many daal varieties as there are ways to make them.

Daal is part of the legume/pulse family — one of the oldest crops grown in human history. Neanderthals grew legumes 70,000 years ago and traces of pulse production from at least 3300 BCE have been found near the Ravi River in Punjab, the heart of the Indus Valley Civilisation. Similar traces have also been found elsewhere, indicating that legume crops were grown in ancient Egypt, Switzerland during the Stone Ages and in 11th century Britain.

The more famed maash ki daal is the Punjabi version — a dry, crumbly daal with lots of spices tossed in, which is usually eaten with a piping, hot roti. The Memoni version, in contrast, is more subdued: the spices are minimal and the texture is smooth and soupy.

It’s very much a winter dish — it features hara lassan (green garlic) and is eaten with bajray ki roti, two ingredients that often feature in Memoni dishes meant for the winter season.

This version of the maash ki daal might be lesser-known, but it is just as delicious

While the Memoni version is the lesser known of the two versions, it is no less delicious — the green chillies add a hot kick, the soupy texture adds that essential comfort element and, to boot, it is quick and easy to whip up.

One thing that really makes Memoni maash ki daal the odd man out and which I do miss in this daal is that there is no tarrka. But outside of that, it’s comfort food at its best. Which daal isn’t?

Memoni Maash ki Daal with Bajray ki Roti

The perfect meal for these cold, wintry days — there’s something comforting yet indulgent about maash ki daal with bajray ki roti. The daal is quick and easy to make, and the roti is worth the effort.

Ingredients

For the Maash ki Daal

250g maash/urad daal 250g yoghurt 1 teaspoon salt or to taste 1 teaspoon haldi (turmeric powder) 1 tablespoon green chilli paste (more if you like it spicy) 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste 2 tablespoons (or as preferred) ghee 2-3 tablespoons finely-chopped coriander

For the Bajray ki Roti

2 cups bajray ka atta (pearl millet flour) ½ teaspoon salt ½ cup hot water

Method

Soak the daal overnight.

Bring the daal to a boil and set aside.

Add the yoghurt in a separate bowl. Add the green chilli paste, the minced ginger-garlic, salt and turmeric powder to the yoghurt. Whisk very well.

Add the yoghurt paste to the boiled daal and cook till the colour changes (it should turn a deeper yellow) and the daal is more smooth and liquidy.

Sprinkle with chopped coriander and add a scoop of desi ghee on top — the ghee will melt into the daal.

While the daal is cooking, make the bajray ki roti. Mix salt into the flour, and then add half a cup of hot water. Rub the dry ingredients together until a crumbly texture forms. Keep on adding more water as needed and mixing until a dough forms. Knead for at least 10 minutes.

Massage the dough and stretch it. Repeat this step a few times until the dough is stretchy and soft. Shape the dough into a ball. Break off a fist-sized ball of dough and place on a flat surface.

Sprinkle wheat flour on the surface. Gently stretch out the dough with your hands, pushing outwards or roll out with a rolling pin.

Heat up a tawa/griddle. Cook for a few minutes on each side until brown or done.

Brush with ghee.

Serve the maash ki daal with piping hot bajray ki roti.

Published in Dawn, EOS, January 14th, 2024

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