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May 20, 2019
One-Pot Daal with Chickpea Pasta (Daal Dhokli)
The star anise-rich aroma of Gujarati daal simmering in a huge pot on the cooker will forever remind me of home. My parent’s home, to be specific. Paired with rotli, stuffed vegetable curry and rice, it was our staple Sunday lunch and a treasured meal.
Gujarati daal is made with oily tuver daal, also known split pigeon peas which have been dried and coated in a slick of oil to preserve it for months, even years. This makes it the ultimate pantry ingredient to have on standby when the contents of your fridge is looking somewhat sparse. The daal should be washed well so the oil is rinsed off before cooking. As a child my mother would keep me occupied by placing a bowl of tuver daal in warm water in front of me so I could swish and swoosh the oil away. It was the ultimate sensory activity for a bored little monkey like me, and something I still find utterly cathartic today.
Unlike many other regional Indian daal recipes, the cooked daal is passed through a sieve so you’re left with a slurpable golden liquid. The daal is then added to a tempered mixture of spices, nuts and tomatoes before being simmered low and slow. The seasoning is heavy-handed with lemon juice, jaggery and salt. This is what gives life to Gujarati daal. It’s served as part of a larger meal or simply in a bowl with boiled rice. My favourite part are the simmered peanuts and cashews which become extremely tender and melt in your mouth.
Enter Daal Dhokli. A hand-rolled, wheat flour and chickpea flour pasta that’s dropped into a simmering pot of daal until it floats to the top and thickens very slightly. It’s more of a stew than a soup and considered a comfort food by many. I find adding a little chickpea flour to the Dhokli dough gives the cooked noodles a welcome firmness so they hold their shape in the daal. If you like your pasta al dente, give it a go.This is a dish that’s unique to western India and a true food hero. My mother always cut out pretty diamond-shapes but every family, from Maharashtra through to Gujarat and Rajasthan, have their own unique way of making it.
Not only is Daal Dhokli a one-pot wonder, it’s also packed with mouth-puckering hot, sweet and sour flavours, good protein and comforting carbs. The spicing is gentle and aromatic with star anise, cinnamon, cloves and ajwain-flecked pasta. The yellow colour of the Dhokli predominantly comes from turmeric but the flavour is unequivocally down to the addition ajwain seeds. If I have fresh ajwain leaves to hand, I chop them up and add them to the dough for an unbeatable peppery freshness.
Daal Dhokli can also be made with leftover daal. Just add water, more lemon, salt and jaggery, bring to a rolling boil and drop in the pieces of Dhokli. Who said leftovers can’t be special?
MORE IDEAS: Add 250g fresh or frozen peas towards the end for a version called Matar Dhokli. Serve with steamed rice for a double-carb comfort feast or add in a few handfuls of spinach leaves if you like plenty of greens. My favourite way to enjoy it is with a swirl of thick Greek yoghurt and fresh coriander chutney.
Not only is this daal from Western India a one-pot wonder, it’s also packed with mouth-puckering hot, sweet and sour flavours, good protein and comforting carbs. The spicing is gentle and aromatic with star anise, cinnamon, cloves and ajwain-flecked pasta.
200goily tuver daalalso known as split pigeon peas
2 1/2Lhot water
1 1/2tbspgrated ginger
2-3green chilliesfinely chopped
1x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
Juice of two large lemons
1tbspjaggeryor brown sugar
To temper the daal:
For the chickpea pasta (dhokli)
Boil the daal in a large pot of water (around 1.5L) until very soft and tender, about 40 minutes. You can also use a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot for this if you have them. Note that it will take less time if you use the latter. Allow to cool slightly and then pass through a sieve into a large bowl to ensure a smooth, golden liquid. You can also use an immersion blender for this. Don't skip this step as a smooth consistency is what makes for a good Gujarati daal.
Give the pan a rinse and quick dry. Heat the oil in the pan and add the mustard seeds. Wait for them to crackle and then add the cumin seeds, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, curry leaves, nuts and asafoetida in quick succession. Stir briefly.
Quickly add the ginger, chillies, tomatoes, turmeric and ground cinnamon. Cook for 5 minutes and then pour in the liquid daal and 1L water. It might sizzle and splutter a little so work carefully. Season with lemon juice, salt and sugar. Simmer for 15 minutes whilst you get on with making the dough for the dhokli.
For the chickpea pasta (dhokli):
In a bowl mix all of the ingredients for the dhokli and knead into a firm, smooth dough, about 8 minutes by hand. Cover the dough with a clean, damp tea towel and rest for 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into four portions and roll out (using extra plain flour) into something resembling a thick chapatti, around 2mm thick. Cut the dough lengthways from the left, and then across from the right, into diamond shapes. TIP: I use a pizza cutter for quick and clean shapes. Set aside and repeat for the rest of the dough. You'll have a few scraps of dough at the edges of each round. You can add them in as they are.
Bring the daal to a rapid rolling boil and one by one drop in all the diamond shaped dhoklis. Remember to keep the daal at a constant rolling boil so the dhokli don't stick to the bottom of the pan. Stir them gently to avoid sticking. You may need to add extra boiling water as it is likely to thicken while the dhokli is cooking. This is normal. When you have done taste it to make sure it's spicy, sweet and sour.
Ladle into bowls and top with fresh coriander.
Pack leftovers away into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 48 hours. The Daal Dhokli will thicken once cool so when reheating, you’ll need to add some extra water to bring it back to a stew-like consistency. Reheat in a saucepan, stirring often to avoid sticking.
Freeze leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 months.