Um, can’t remember but sometime this century!
You must have read about the – What would be your last meal on Death Row? – thing. Here’s mine: Steamed rice, tadka dal, piece of fried surmai, papad and mango pickle. Throw in a few chilled beers, and that’s it. Last meal, last deal, last feel and screw washing up later. The final chapter in a life well (mis)spent. There are a thousand versions of dal or doll, as pronounced by my Aunts: Flo & Betty. I’ve eaten about 22 and counting. This number is my version: No.44. Hence Dal Antonio. I like my dal fiery and hot so I also call this the ‘Bastard’ version. Like you eat it, enjoy it, and next morning suffer it, and go: ‘Bastard’.
3/4 cup tuvar dal
3/4 cup moong dal
2 medium tomatoes (roughly chopped)
1-2 tbsp oil
2-3 bay leaves
Handful curry leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 green chillies (sliced lengthwise)
5 garlic cloves (roughly chopped)
1/2″ piece of ginger (chopped super fine)
1 medium onion (chopped fine)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsps sambar masala
Salt to taste
Wash and soak dals in water for an hour.
In a large pot, put in 6 cups of water.
Bring to a boil then put flame on low (it should take around an hour or so; if you use a pressure cooker, I don’t know, maybe 15 minutes; my rule of thumb is 3-4 whistles).
Cook till dals almost soft.
Ten minutes before dals cook, in frying pan heat oil on a high flame.
When smoking, fry b. and c. leaves (they’ll go brown in seconds).
Quickly toss in seeds: mustard and cumin.
When they splutter and pop, toss in green chilles.
Next garlic and ginger followed by onions.
Keep stirring all the time.
Lower flame and add the tumeric and chilli powder, and sambar masala.
Stir till aroma of spices wafts out of pan.
Then ladle in four to five heaps of dal into the frying pan.
Stir and allow dal to absorb the tadka.
The return f. pan’s contents to the pot with dal.
Stir till tadka evenly distributed.
Allow to come to boil.
Put flame on low.
Add salt to taste.
Let dal cook uncovered for another 10-15 minutes.
In the meanwhile, on a nice, big white plate, arrange a towering mountain of steamed rice.
Blob of mango pickle left top of plate (to the right if you’re right-handed; ’tis necessary culinary ergonomics; especially if you’re wearing a long-sleeved shirt). Place surmai fry in side plate; fried (screw roasting ’em) papad in another.
Ladle immense helping of dal over rice.