I truly believe that “cooking keeps me sane” and I am actually one of those people who really enjoys experimenting with different spices, ingredients & the infinite creative combinations that exist when it comes to food. That being said, this particular recipe is exactly that – a lovely dish perfected to yummy goodness after a few trials & tweaks in the kitchen. I love every part of this journey & process resulting in that one satisfying & heavenly bite. My Goan Dal & Paneer Curry is the wonderful outcome of combining various tastes & flavors in delicious harmony and balance.
I have used chana dal (split Bengal gram dal) for this recipe but you could most certainly use toor dal (split/skinned yellow pigeon peas), split/skinned yellow moong dal or even split/skinned masoor dal for this dish.
GOAN DAL & PANEER CURRY (Lentil and Paneer Curry)
2 cups chana dal (split Bengal gram dal)
½ lb paneer cubes, lightly fried until golden brown on all sides
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
½ tsp black mustard seeds
4-6 fresh curry leaves
3-4 dried red chilies, to taste
½ tsp fenugreek powder (methi powder)
pinch of asafetida (hing)
½-1 tsp tamarind paste
1 tsp kala or goda masala (you may use garam masala as a substitute)
½ tsp turmeric (haldi)
¼ tsp red chili powder, to taste
½ tsp smoked Spanish paprika
½ tsp ground cumin powder
½ tsp ground coriander powder
salt & pepper, to taste
2 tbsp oil, vegetable or canola
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
If you using a pressure cooker, cook the dal until the dal is tender but not mushy. Alternatively, you can also cook the dal on the stove top, just add enough water to cover and let the dal cook for about 15-20 minutes on low heat or until the dal is tender but not mushy. Then, using the back of a large spoon or ladle, slightly mash the dal against the sides of the pot. This will give you a nice creamy consistency. Set aside and let cool until needed.
Meanwhile in a saucepan on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, carefully add the mustard seeds. When the splattering stops, reduce the heat and add the curry leaves, dried red chilies, fenugreek powder and the asafetida. Now add the onions & sauté until lightly browned. Then add the ginger, garlic and the spices (kala masala, turmeric, red chili powder, paprika, ground cumin powder, ground coriander powder, salt & pepper). Mix well to combine & let the spices cook for a few minutes before adding in the cooked dal along with any cooking water. You can also add the tamarind, as well as, the paneer cubes. Stir well to combine, reduce the heat to low, bring to a gentle boil and let simmer for 5-6 minutes until all the flavors have mingled. If the curry is a bit too thick, add a little water as needed. The consistency should not be too thick or too watery. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves and serve with fresh chapatis and Basmati rice.
Feel free to add some vegetables to the dish such as some chopped baby spinach, green peas, grated carrots, baby corn or even some zucchini pieces.