Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Best ever Dal and fragrant pork steaks

To begin, I have limited cooking experience with Dhals/ Dals (and in general the whole Indian cuisine side of things!), though I am rather fond of the creamy spinach one I posted a few months back and inbetween then and now theres been alrights and hmm's..however all has changed and this is definately my new favourite dal! Its thick and mmm, oh and fragrant, and I found myself eating from the spoon whilst putting the remanants into my lunchbox for tomorrow..without the pork part its a great veggie dish!

The actual type of dal I used came about after originally wanting to make another recipe from Simon Hopkinson's book 'Week In, Week out' which I reviewed a while back (and where the delightful aforementionned spinachy one came from!) for Fragrant Duck 'pilaf' and it called for Moong Dal. First hurdle though was trying to find a bag of the stuff that wasn't into giant proportions - ASDA only had 2kg bags....so I eventually asked my Dad, who luckily lives nearer lots of ethnic grocers and he got me two smaller packets, one of Moong Dal Chilka, which is yellow and green, and also a bag of yellow Mung Dal. To be honest I have found the different names baffling at times though think one or the other would be correct..

However, today I found myself on a day off from work, not much in the cupboards or fridge and horrible weather not exactly enticing me to leave the house I decided to have a go at making my own spice mix from the cupboards and leaving the duck recipe for another time, but still using the above lentils and choosing the pork shoulder steaks instead that I'd defrosted overnight. This recipe is nothing like the Duck one, I will definately make and post that another time, this came about purely from imagination and wanting to use my cute little spice tin I was given last year!

The pork part is good, with a nice, if a little plain marinade, however the real star is the Dal. I'm not entirely sure the two fully worked together and to be honest I would be happy enough just with a big hot bowl of the Dal! The pork was really for feeding carnivorous boyfriend and he enjoyed it!

One thing I have learnt over the last few months with Dal's is to make a Tarka, a finishing touch to the dish:

1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds

Lightly toast the spices, cool and grind together, reserve for later stages.

For the pork; marinade 2 pork shoulder steaks in 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp ground cayenne, pinch white pepper, 1/2 tsp ground coriander and 1 clove roughly chopped garlic, blended with 2 tsp sunflower oil. Leave for a couple of hours if possible.

Dal recipe:
(makes enough for 3 happy portions)

Soak 250g of Moong Dal Chilka for a couple of hours in cold water, rinse and drain.

Heat 1 tsp oil in a saucepan, add the drained dal and fry for a couple of minutes, add apx 750ml cold water, 1 knorr vegetable stockpot, a pinch of chilli powder, pinch ground coriander and 1/2 tsp of the ground Tarka mix, bring to boil and simmer for 25 minutes, add a tin of drained Kala Chana (a darker, nuttier chickpea, use normal if you can't find) simmer for a further 10 minutes or until you have a creamy, thickish mixture. Add a little salt to taste.

When the Dal has started cooking, fry the pork steaks along with a sliced onion until almost cooked through, add more oil if needed, remove the pork and add 1 tsp white wine vinegar, simmer for a couple of minutes, add 1/2 tin chopped tomatoes, 1 tsp of the tarka mix, cover and simmer for 10 mins, return the pork and cook through - about a further 5-6 minutes, allow to rest for a couple of minutes before serving in a warm place.

To finish, heat a small pan with 1 tbsp butter until foaming, add the remaining Tarka mix and cook for a couple of seconds, stir into the dal. Serve immediately with the pork, if desired.

If you were just making the dal alone, I would still make the same quantity of spice mixture, though maybe adjust to your tastes by adding a little less of the mixture.


As a bit rambled above, full ingredients are:

250g moong dal chilka
1 vegetable Knorr Stockpot 
750ml water
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cayenne
pinch white pepper
1/2 tsp ground coriander + extra pinch for the dal
2 pork shoulder steaks, fat trimmed
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1tsp yellow mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tin good quality chopped tomatoes
1 tin Kala chana or chickpeas
Pinch chilli powder
1 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp vegetable oil+ extra if needed for the onions
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp butter


  1. Saved and stored... oh I can just imagine how gorgeous this would be! Thanks Anne... Friday night supper, I think!

  2. I've never tasted Dhal before, but that pork looks amazing! Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Dal is such wonderful comfort food and using moong dal sounds like an interesting alternative - I love it.

  4. This sounds so good I'm going to have to try it, thanks for the recipe!

  5. Anne,
    I'm writing from the U.S. and have a trans-Atlantic question. You wrote: "1/2 tin good quality chopped tomatoes". What size - quantity or weight - tin? I'm more of an omnivore than my vegan son. Thanks for a different meal for tomorrow night!


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