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Chicken with Lentils (Murg Dal)

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Lentils are a good source of proteins. All mothers are always busy forcing bland blended dal down their young ones’ throats, telling them how healthy it is. And why not? I have always had a childhood crush on lentils. Boy! What a thing to have a crush on.
But it was only natural for a young lad whose grandfather had invented dal makhani way back in the 1920s at Moti Mahal. Not only me, but the whole world loves this black magic. However, it was not only this particular dal preparation that my taste buds fancied but it was all varieties of dals cooked with passion.
Lately, I have been experimenting cooking simple lentils with a twist , to give the humble lentil an upmarket image.
There is a variety of lentils in the market ranging from different colours, textures and quality. Traditionally, lentils were cooked as simple daily routine menus. Nowadays, however, the practice seems to have reduced in the wake of other western options the kids want to eat and working parents easily succumb to these pasta, pizza and noodles treat children want daily.
If we could make this simple dal interesting and easy it will find its way back to modern kitchen shelves.
Let me share a great, tasty and healthy recipe that surely will find its way to everyone’s heart. This is one of the recipes which I shall be cooking as a part of the Moti Mahal launch in Manhattan in November.
The special Moti Mahal menu I have created will include some fusion recipes like brain curry on puff pastry, chicken and gram kebabs from my book “Kebab Trail” (which is the current World best cook book in foreign cuisine) and a new fusion dessert.

Murg Dal (Chicken with Lentils )

Red masoor dal – 1/2 cup
Moong washed – 1/2 cup
Channa dal – 1cup
Chicken – 1 kg, cut in 15 pieces
Oil – 1/2 cup
Salt – 3 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Dry mango powder – 1 tsp
Coriander seeds roasted and coarsely crushed – 2 tsp
Cumin seeds roasted and coarsely crushed – 3 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Tomato puree – 1/2 cup
One onion, sliced
Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
For tempering:
Clarified butter – 2 tbsp
Asaefotida – 1/2 tsp
Whole red chili dry – 2
White cumin seed – 1 tsp
Chopped coriander leaves – 1 tbsp
Slit green chili – 2
Heat oil in a wok, put the whole spices and spice powders and ginger garlic paste; saute for two minutes;
Add chicken pieces and saute till chicken loses its colour; add tomato puree and one cup water; cover and cook till chicken is tender;
Boil all the lentils together in a pan with four cups of water; once cooked, remove from fire and blend into a fine mixture in a food processor;
Pour the lentil in the chicken and stir till it’s well blended; add water to suit the consistency you want for the dish;
In a frying pan, add clarified butter and all other tempering ingredients; let it simmer for two-three minutes and put over the hot lentil and chicken preparation;
Serve hot, garnished with chopped coriander and slit green chilies;
Alternatively for vegetarians one can substitute chicken with soya chops.
(22.10.2014. Monish Gujral, owner of the Moti Mahal chain, is a restaurateur, chef and food writer.)

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