A combination of chana and urad dal makes the perfect Langarwali Dal. Photo: Monika Manchanda
Apart from the Kada Prasad, which we explored in my previous post here, another dish firmly rooted in my memory from the many langar meals is the Langarwali Dal. It is essentially a curry made by mixing two lentils – the chana dal and the split black urad – slow cooked together with tomatoes, ginger and basic spices like salt and chilli.
A version of the same dal is found at many dhabhas in Punjab as well, but with a slight variation of adding onion and garlic to it and serving with a blob of fresh white butter. A version is also made at almost every Punjabi home very regularly, so I asked many people on what is that makes the one at langar stand out from the others. The answer was pretty straightforward--the slow cooking and letting the taste of dal shine without the addition of onion, garlic and other spices that one would usually add. So, here is a recipe that will help you recreate the langar magic at your house to a certain extent.
Recipe for Langarwali Dal (serves 4 - 6)
Time taken: 40 minutes
1 cup chana dal
1/2 cup split black urad
2 large tomatoes chopped
2-3 green chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp oil
1 inch piece of ginger
1/2 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
1. Wash both the chana and urad dal together and let it soak in water for 10 minutes.
2. In a heavy bottom pan, heat some oil. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, add the cumin seeds to it. Fry for about a minute till they start browning a little.
3. Add the ginger, green chilly and tomato to the above and fry for about 2 minutes. Don’t try to cook it fully.
4. Add both the dals along with about 3 cups of water and bring to boil. Once it is boiling, cover it and let it cook on a medium flame till the dal is just about done. This may take around 30 minutes or so. At this point, you can use a pressure cooker to fasten the process, but the secret behind the langarwalli dal is the slow cooking. Since the quantities are massive in a Gurudwara langar, it is usually cooked in open fire.
5. Once the dal is almost done, add salt, turmeric and garam masala. Again, don’t over boil the dal, the dal at the langar is usually boiled to a point where one can see each pulse separately.
6. Garnish with coriander leaves and some ghee and enjoy with hot rotis.
Monika's food blog Sin-A-Mon Tales comprises reviews, recipes and food stories from her travels and childhood. She also writes for many websites and publications. An avid reader and an obsessive traveller, Monika is always looking for food history and culture.