Add a zing to this dal by adding some fresh lime leaves. Photo credit: Gitika Saikia
The signs of the hot summer months start showing from June in Assam.
Back home, the state board schools get ready to finish their half-yearly exams, which start from mid-June and go on till the end of the month.
As kids, we used to eagerly wait for exams to get over as summer vacations lasted from July to August.
Unlike today, in those days vacations meant no work and just play.
There would be no summer projects or homework to finish and tuition classes to attend.
Summer months are dry, hot and very humid. Even mothers would get a chance to take a break from the kitchen, which meant no more elaborate menus and long hours near the gas stove.
Lunch and dinner used to be a quick affair with simple meals including dal, vegetable mash (potato, pumpkin or brinjal), fish fry and plain rice.
Being the season of cherry tomatoes and lemon, a lot of these are consumed during these hot months.
Today's recipe is one we relished during school days. Its memories in terms of flavour are so strong that I still cook it during summers as dal or soup.
I have added a fresh touch by adding lime leaves to it to make it flavourful, and to uplift your mood instantly after a hard day's work.
The ingredients are light and packed with flavours.
Recipe for Panch Phoran aru Kon Bilahi Masoor Dail
1 cup Masoor Dal
10 cherry tomatoes (slit in half)
Panch phoran (five spice mix) for tempering the dal
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp ginger & garlic paste
Salt & turmeric
Oil for tempering
Lime or kaffir lime leaves
1. Boil the masoor dal.
2. Next, heat oil in a kadhai.
3. Throw in some panch phoran and let it splutter.
4. Fry the chopped onions till translucent and add the ginger-garlic paste.
5. Add salt and turmeric and then the cherry tomatoes.
6. When the tomatoes start reducing a bit, pour the dal. Let it cook for 5 minutes before adding the lime leaves.
7. Cook for another 5 minutes so that the flavour of the lime folds in the dal.
Your simple dal is now ready to be devoured. I had mine with some fish fry, mash and plain joha bhaat (small grain flavoured rice of Assam).
Follow Gitika on Twitter @gitikasaikia
Gitika calls herself as an Assamese food evangelist. Once a marketing professional, she is now a North East Indian food curator in Mumbai. She wants to showcase and promote Assamese tribal food on Gitika's Pak Ghor.