1. Ghee is clarified butter and it's the main fat used in Indian cooking. Sold in the international section of Coles and other major Australian supermarkets. Otherwise, use equal parts butter + vegetable oil.
2. The green chillies sold at supermarkets in Australia are cayenne green chillies.
3. Curry leaves really add an extra something-something to curries. Find them in the fresh herb section of Australian supermarkets or find dried in the dried herbs and spice section.
4. LENTILS: I use chana dal here for its shape and texture - sold in the international section of some Coles supermarkets. Any yellow dal such as channa dal, toor dal or moong dal can be used in this recipe.
If you cannot get hold of chana dal, yellow split peas are a terrific substitution but only use 3 cups of water and cook for 40 minutes covered and 30 minutes uncovered.
For toor dal, only use 3 cups of water and cook per recipe times.
All other lentils - follow the Yellow Split Pea directions above, then at the end of the cook time, you might need to add more water and/or cook for longer.
This recipe is not suited to puye lentils, or other teeny tiny lentils. Anything shaped like yellow split peas should be fine.
5. Eschallots are the small onions that are finer than normal onions. The white part of green onions/scallions/shallots will be fine, or even 1/4 of a normal onion.
6. GENERAL NOTES:
* Fat levels - You'll miss some of the luxurious richness if you cut down on fat but you can reduce slightly if desired.
* Dal will thicken after cooking. Stop the cooking just before what you think is the ideal consistency, and it will be just right by the time you serve. If reheating the next day, add some water to loosen the dal.
* Dal is FILLING!!! This recipe feeds 3 very generously, or 4 normal servings.
* Be really careful making the tadka, as it's easy to burn the spices. It is better to have oil that's not hot enough and then turn up the heat, than oil that is too hot to start with.
7. Recipe Source: This recipe is another RecipeTin Family effort. We referenced a number of authentic sources, distilling the best bits into our recipe to achieve the closest possible replica of the Dahl we love from Indian restaurants. Indian celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor's dal tadka was one source, as was a recipe we found from Rick Stein and his travels across India. A few Youtube videos from home cooks in India also helped us get the tadka technique down (after burning the spices and smoking ourselves out of the kitchen a couple of times - read the notes and learn from us!) We hope you enjoy this dal as much as we do.
8. Nutrition per serving, dal only, assuming 4 servings.