Sunday, July 28, 2013

Umptee/Umpti/Amti/Normal Dal/Maharashtrian Dal (Lentils)

I learned to cook this recipe from my Indian in-laws when they visited the United States. It is the type of dal, my husband's paternal grandparents ate for lunch and dinner most days. My husband ate it often when he was growing up.

Recipe Name

Since I learned to cook dal from my in-laws, I did not have a written recipe. I always assumed the dish name was umptee. When writing the recipe, my husband told me the name is amti. My daughter usually calls this normal dal to distinguish it from other Indian lentil dishes I serve. If she wrote the name, she would spell it umpti.

Toor Dal

Toor dal, also called pigeon peas, is a yellow lentil that is common in India. It is usually sold split without the outer hull. I buy mine at the Indian grocery. It comes in two varieties, plain and oily. I buy the plain. Unseasoned, cooked dal is easy to digest and makes a good baby food. When my kids were little, I put some of the dal aside for them when making this dish.

Black (Goda) Masala

Black (Goda) masala is a Maharashtrian spice mixture made of roasted and ground coconut, chilis, and other spices. Like many Indian families, I get mine from relatives (e.g., my mother-in-law and sister-in-law) in Indian. It is one of the things we always get when we visit India or ask for when relatives visit. Sometimes, Goda masala is available at Indian grocery stores.

3/4 CupToor dal, plain preferred
5 CupsWater, total
1 LargeOnion, cut in half and then crescents, about 2 cups
1 Jalapeno pepper, finely minced
2 TbspVegetable oil
1/2 TspMustard seeds, black preferred
1/8 TspAsafoetida
1/4 TspTurmeric
1 CupTomatoes, chopped
1/4 TspCayenne pepper
1/2 TspBlack (Goda) masala
1 1/2 TspSalt
1/4 CupDried coconut, unsweetened
2 TbspCilantro leaves, chopped
Fresh lemon juice, optional
  1. Rinse dal, add 3 cups of water and cook until soft. In a pressure cooker, cook for 5 minutes after reaching pressure.
  2. In a large pot, heat oil and mustard seeds on medium high heat. When mustard seeds pop, add onions. Cook until onions are translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Turn heat down if onions start to brown.
  3. Add turmeric and asafoetida and cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Add toor dal, 2 cups of water, tomatoes, jalapeno, cayenne pepper, black masala, salt, and coconut. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  5. Turn off heat, and add cilantro before serving. If desired, add fresh lemon juice to the entire pot or on top of individual servings.