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Dal in a pressure cooker


meredithla
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I have a new Cuisinart electric pressure cooker that I'm playing with. I've been trying to make a dal. What should the proper texture of a dal be? Should the lentils still have their shape and some bite? Should they look more like a really thick puree or mashed and soupy with a layer of liquid?

Here's what I've tried.

Using red lentils and following a recipe:

1 cup of lentils

4 cups of water

-Bring to high pressure, cook for one minute and then let pressure release naturally.

These came out totally mashed, no original shape left or bite and about an inch of liquid on top.

Then I played with the porportions and made it again with:

1 cup red lentils

2 1/2 cups of water

-Bring to high pressure, cook for 1 minute and let pressure release naturally.

Now I had a really thick puree with no extra liquid but again totally mashed.

Both tasted delicious but....what texture am I aiming for and how do I get there with this pressure cooker? Can anyone adivse?

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many indian families use pressure cookers for ages and depending the type, brand, etc. have developed a set of *whistle* logic...

The pressure cookers we use have only one pressure level - with a moveable weighted *whistle* on top...

Depending on the texture that you need - you would let it go for an x amount of whistles - the more the whistles - the lesser the original shape, size (and pretty much no bite as it would be associated with uncooked...)

I am not sure of the model you are referring to

but if you adjust the cooking time (read experiment with it ) you should come up with a *caliberation* of your own

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As for the Cuisinart pressure cooker, this one has no whistle-everything is electric and digital. You set it for low or high pressure cooking, the amount of time and then choose a natural pressure release or turn a lever for a quick pressure release.

What I haven't tried yet is quick releasing the pressure as soon as the lentils have cooked under high pressure for 1 minute. That would be the other variable involved-a slow natural release vs. a quick one.

But this still begs my main question...what is the proper texture that I'm looking for? Is there a right and a wrong dal texture? :huh:

Thanks!

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Dal texture varies by dal type and recipe;

most dals however will end up mushy.

Crunchy dals (except in a few recipes like fried snacks) = tummyache,

because they are difficult to digest).

Even recipes using the sabut dals (=un split dals) like

kali dal / dal makhani etc. the dal will look 'whole', but

it will be very soft and creamy to eat.

These are not European lentil recipes; you bite the dal

it is not supposed to bite you back.

And most Indian dal recipes are like a very thick soup;

i.e. rather liquidy. They are supposed to form a textural

contrast with dry sabzis. There are some dry dal recipes however.

Masoor dal, the pink lentils you used, will typically

end up mushy. Esp if you use 4 water : 1 cup dal.

I usually use not more than 3 cups water. It's still

plenty liquidy.

Have you not eaten any dal dishes that you've liked in local

restaurants? Try and duplicate the textures there.

Re the whistle logic, as you saw, your new model pc won't have that;

however that lwhistle ogic is most unscientific. The first whistle is to let you

know that the pc has reached its full head of steam. Thereafter you

should turn the heat low to maintain pressure. More than one whistle

is just a waste of heat, fuel, and sounds noisy ...

Milagai

Edited by Milagai (log)
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There is no right or wrong texture, but as Milagai mentioned, different types of dal tend to be cooked in different ways. The red lentils that you used are normally very soupy with no trace of the original shape or texture of the lentils. So your first attempt probably gave you a more authentic result, but personally I like my lentils a little thicker so I would have preferred the second.

Chana dal generally holds its shape more and while the soupiness may vary, the lentils should be a little firmer. Then there's urad (maa) dal which also can be cooked in different ways, ranging from very soupy to completely dry, with each grain distinct, though fully cooked, of course, because otherwise it would be impossible to digest.

What is your personal preference and how do you intend to serve/eat it? The reason I don't like soupy dals is because I tend to favour bread over rice, and it's harder to eat the soupy dals with bread.

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Thank you for the info, this helps a lot! I have actually never ordered a dal in an Indian restaurant but with the pressure cooker and a new Indian cookbook, I wanted to try some recipes. I've now done two recipes with the masoor dal and I have a package of chana dal to try next.

Thanks for the help, you are all "dal-lings"! :biggrin:

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have cooked mostly all sorts of Indian lentils but among thme tuar (or arhar or rahar) the most.

Depending on the company and what kind of dal they were raised on I have been made to cook dals with different textures (the same dal). Lets take the example one of the more common dal in indian restaurants, tuar. So some people like to cook it to a semi pureed form and then they use a whisk before serving it to actually turn it into more of a soup. Not my preference though. The region I grew up in, we prefer the dal to be "blossomed" which is to saythat the dal is cooked completely and does not have bite to it but it still retains the shape. Using turmeric gives it a bright yellow color and looking at the finished product it makes sense why old timers called it "blossomed"

Anyway, my formula is (for tuar) 1 part dal, 3 part water and a pinch of turmeric per cup of dal. I cook it for three whistles and then turn off the stove. I let the pressure release naturally. No quick release. That done, then comes the tadka (baghaar).

Then of course there are other dals to be cooked but thats another post.

cheers.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Bring to high pressure, cook for one minute and then let pressure release naturally.

Lentils only take around 20-30 min to cook on the stove. By letting the pressure release naturally you would be cooking under pressure for 15-20 min. Bottom line is they are over cooked. Try to stop the cooking sooner by manually releasing the steam or using the cold water method to eliminate the pressure sooner.

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Lentils only take around 20-30 min to cook on the stove.  By letting the pressure release naturally you would be cooking under pressure for 15-20 min.  Bottom line is they are over cooked. Try to stop the cooking sooner by manually releasing the steam or using the cold water method to eliminate the pressure sooner.

Lets most dals get to pressure cook for a brief time, then use the cold water method to bring down the pressure...

Chana Dal has a bit more body so we leave under pressure for a little longer..

Trial and error... emphasis on the error is the way with the new style pressure cookers.. no more whistles..

soupy or semi firm, they all taste good. It does take a while to get the texture dialed in...

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