Lemons and limes, even oranges, are used in savoury dishes throughout India, for example in South India in Rasam and in Kuzhambu. Wonderful dishes. This recipe takes a simple Mung dal, blends it until it is silky smooth and infuses it with the flavours of lemon or lime peel and flesh. It is a delightful dish, and very refreshing in Summer.
250 g mung dal
750 ml water
1 tspn turmeric powder
salt to taste
a pinch sugar
1 or 2 lemons or limes, sliced thinly
1.5 tspn ghee
2 Indian dried red chillies
1 tspn brown mustard seeds
2 tspns finely chopped ginger
2 teja pata (Indian Bay Leaves) (omit if not available)
Rinse the mung dal well under running water for 2 or 3 minutes. Aficionados will say that this makes a difference, so don’t skip the step.
Add the dal to the boiling water, let it cook for 10 mins and add 1 tspn salt and the turmeric powder. Continue cooking until the dal is mushy and tender.
While the dal is cooking, line a non-metal serving dish with the lemon slices.
When the dal is cooked, take an immersion blender and blend the dal so that it is like a thick, creamy soup (you can use a blender to do this too). This thickens the dal, so if it is too thick, add some water to bring it to your desired consistency.
Reduce the heat under the saucepan to low.
Make a tadka by heating ghee or oil in a small frying pan and add the dried chillies. As they deepen in colour, add the mustard seeds and allow to splutter. Then add the ginger and the teja pata (if using).
After a few moments, pour onto the dal and mix. Adjust the salt, and add the pinch of sugar. Bring back to the boil and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes, then remove from the heat.
Pour the dal into the serving dish with the lemon slices, cover and allow it to sit for 5 minutes so the lemon and spice flavours infuse.
Serve at once with plain rice, preferably a rice that is not par-boiled (eg use Basmati).
recipe notes and alternatives
Don’t keep this overnight, and don’t reheat the dal, as it will turn bitter. If you need to make it beforehand, cook the dal but don’t pour it over the lemons. At serving time, reheat the dal, add to the lemons, let it sit and serve.
An internet friend tells me in their family, cooked dosakai melon (Indian cucumber) and green chillies are always added to the lemony paasi paruppu .