While classifying Handi cooking through the annals of Indian culinary preparation has been the recent endeavour, the cooking vessels in ancient India were mostly Handi-like made from either clay or copper. The pots are typically round thick bottomed which tapers towards the mouth to capture the steam throughout the cooking process. The process is a bit lengthy because it dwells upon the principle of slow cooking to fully develop the flavor and aroma. While the recipe of “handi dal” vary from place to place, as tracing this recipe through the culinary journey of past years does not yield much information, the widely acceptable lentils for Handi cooking are Arhar Dal, also known as Tur dal or yellow lentil and Whole urad dal, also known as Black lentil. We will try to recreate the recipe which is a close version of what most of the restaurants do while leaving the choice of lentil to you as per your convenience. Please remember that cooking Urad dal will take longer because it contains skin for this recipe and also because it releases its creaminess through slow cooking process as evident in Dal makhni.
1 cup Yellow lentil (tur/ arhar dal)
2 tbsp groundnut oil
2 tbsp chopped ginger
2 tbsp chopped garlic
3 tbsp chopped onion
½ tsp turmeric powder
3 green chili, chopped
¼ cup chopped tomato
3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
1 tbsp ghee/ white butter
Pick the lentils, wash in running water and keep soaked for 30minutes. This allows the lentil to hydrate and cook evenly. Place the washed lentil in handi with salt, turmeric and water (approximately 4 ½ cup), bring to boil, reduce the heat and remove the scum which surfaces on top.
Heat oil in pan, sauté until light brown, add chopped ginger and garlic and keep cooking until all the ingredients are of the same colour (light brown). Then add green chili, stir for a minute.
Add tomatoes and continue cooking until tomatoes are reduced to a pulp. Transfer the mixture to the lentil and stir. Continue cooking until lentils are cooked and of medium thick consistency.
Just before serving, stir in the ghee/ white butter and chopped coriander. Serve hot from the handi either with Indian bread or as an accompaniment for rice.
Bon Appetit !
Tags: curries, naan, roti, chettinad, dal, paneer, handi, kebab, kulfi, tandoor