This has to be one of the easiest, not to mention, one of the tastiest dishes in Maharashtrian cuisine. Vatli Dal which literally translates into “ground dal”, is a rich source of protein & can be eaten as a side dish or even as a light meal or snack. Traditionally, this dish is made using chana dal (Bengal gram) but you could also make it using toor dal (arhar dal aka split yellow pigeon peas) or even yellow moong dal.
Feel free to use whatever vegetables you have on hand or your favorites. Just remember to adjust the cooking times accordingly depending upon which vegetables you decide to use.
VATLI DAL (Spicy Ground Dal)
1.5 cups dal (chana dal, toor dal or yellow moong dal)
1 medium onion, finely diced
1” piece of ginger, peeled
2-3 large garlic clove, finely minced
2-3 small Thai green chilies, slit in half lengthwise
½ cup green peas (frozen is fine, no need to thaw)
½ cup diced carrots
½ cup corn kernels (frozen is fine, no need to thaw)
½ cup of toasted unsalted peanuts (optional)
5-6 fresh curry leaves
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
pinch of asafetida (hing)
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt & pepper, to taste
juice of ½ lime
2 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
Freshly grated coconut for garnish (optional)
In a large mixing the bowl, add the dal with at least 3 cups of water. There should be enough water to cover the dal by at least 1.5-2 inches. Allow the dal to soak for at least 5-6 hours or overnight is fine (just cover it with a dish).
When you are ready to prepare the dish, drain the dal well in a fine mesh colander. Using a food processor, grind the dal to a coarse texture similar to the size of couscous. Do not add any water during this process. Now add the ginger and garlic, blitz for another 30 seconds & set aside until needed.
In a large deep skillet or wok on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, carefully add the black mustard seeds. After they start popping, add the cumin seeds along with the asafetida and curry leaves. Once the splattering subsides, add the onions and stir fry until they are translucent and lightly browned. This may take up to 3-4 minutes. Next, add the green chilies and peanuts along with the salt, pepper & turmeric. Now add the carrots, stir and let cook for a few minutes before adding the peas and corn. Stir and let cook for a few more minutes before adding the dal mixture. Stir well to combine all of the ingredients. Reduce the heat to low, cover and let cook for 6-8 minutes. Add the lime juice and stir to combine. Lastly add the cilantro leaves and coconut, and serve with yogurt on the side.