Cooked with jaggery, chilli, turmeric and peanuts, this sweet and spicy yellow pigeon pea dal is definitely more than the sum of its parts, the peanuts providing textural interest whilst the spices come together to create a layered mouthful of flavours. It’s soupy, tangy and full of flavour
The recipe is from Maunika Gowardhan’s Thali cookbook, a wide-ranging collection of Indian recipes that work well in a thali or on their own for a more simple meal.
Gujarati Surati Dal | Sweet & Spicy Dal with Chillies & Peanut
Cooked with jaggery, chilli, turmeric and peanuts, this dal is soupy, tangy and a must on every thali. Adjust the jaggery based on the grade and quality, as some varieties can be sweeter than others.
- 1 heaped tbsp skinless raw peanuts
- 200 g (7 oz/ scant 1 cup) toor dal
- 1.2 litres (40 fl oz/ 4¾ cups) water
- 120 g (4 oz) tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 3 tbsp ghee
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- pinch of asafoetida
- 2 dried red Kashmiri chillies or any dried mild chillies
- 7-8 curry leaves
- 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder or mild chilli powder
- 2 tbsp ground jaggery or brown sugar
- salt, to taste
- juice of 1 lemon
- chopped coriander (cilantro), to garnish
Put the peanuts in a bowl, cover with hot water and leave to soak while you cook the dal.
Put the dal, water, tomatoes and turmeric in a large saucepan, over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 11/4 hours until the dal is thick and soft, stirring a few times as it cooks to make sure it is not sticking to the pan. Turn off the heat and mash with a potato masher, or use a stick blender to coarsely crush the dal and thicken it slightly. Set aside.
Heat the ghee in a frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and asafoetida and fry for a few seconds until they sputter, then add the dried chillies and stir well. Turn off the heat and quickly stir in the curry leaves and chilli powder. Pour this mixture over the warm dal and stir well, then drain the peanuts.
Put the dal back over a low heat, then add the peanuts and jaggery and season to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes until the jaggery has dissolved, stirring to make sure the dal doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat, add the lemon juice and garnish with fresh coriander. Serve in your Gujarati thali with roti or rice.
Our reviewer Nicky cooked a selection of dishes from Maunika’s cookbook to make this beautiful thali. Shown (clockwise from top) are Broad Bean Curry with Carom Seeds, Jaggery & Tamarind Paste, Spicy Sweetcorn with Ginger & Green Chilli, Sweet & Spicy Dal with Chillies & Peanut, Gujarati Mint & Mango Chutney, Gujarati Aubergine & Potato Curry, Cucumber & Coconut Salad and (in the centre) Steamed Lentil Cake with Ginger & Curry Leaves.
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Kavey Eats received a review copy of Thali: A Joyful Celebration of Indian Home Cooking by Maunika Gowardhan from publisher Hardie Grant. Photography by Louise Hagger.