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Author Topic: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?  (Read 13153 times)

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Offline Roy22

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What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?
« on: March 09, 2006, 07:42 PM »
Can anyone tell me how all UK Indian restaurants manage to put that wonderful "smokey" taste into their Tarka Dhals?

Endless recipe books all fail to recreate that elusive smokey taste.? I've read the recipes posted on this site, and sadly they have nothing to add that I haven't tried before.? For the avoidance of doubt, browning garlic just creates a horrible taste but no smokiness.? Browning onion, even to the point of caramelisation, does not create smokiness either.

There is some "trick" known to every UK restaurant that no recipe book writer has ever recorded.? Does anyone out there know the answer, or am I damned to pour fried garlic & onions into my dhal, and live in disappointment?


Offline CurryCanuck

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Re: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2006, 03:39 AM »
Hi Roy-
Traditionally , a lot of he dhals are " tossed " in a tempered mixture of spices . The dhal ( 1 1/2 cups ) is cooked in water in the usual manner until it is just soft and then drained .  Heat 5 tbsp ghee in a pan , add 1 tsp cumin and saute over medium heat until it browns . Add 1/4 tsp asafoetida , 1/2 tsp chili powder , 1/2 tsp tumeric , a  pinch of salt and stir . Then add the cooked dhal and toss for a few minutes . Add 1/2 tsp garam masala and 1tsp lemon juice and stir . Other ingredients can be utilized to both adjust or change the desired flavor i.e. - pre-cooked onions , coriander , cardamom etc.

Hope this helps
CC :)


Offline Roy22

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Re: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2006, 05:37 PM »
Hi Currycanuk,

Thanks for the quick answer, I will give your suggestions a try soon and report back.

Meanwhile, I'm a little curious about your recipe.? Some dhals in the UK do seem quite "solid", so may well have been fried in oil etc, but more commonly they are fluid to be point of sometimes approaching a soup.? How can such fluid dhals have been fried?

The annoying thing is that despite the fact that UK Tarka Dhals vary hugely by way of different pulses used, seasoning and consistency ranging all the way from near solid to soup, they all have that damned smokey taste, which had kind of given me the idea that some mystery ingredient must be common to all.? I will try your recipe, but wonder if you can explain such varied (but still smokey) dhals?

Thanks,

Roy.

Offline Roy22

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Re: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2006, 08:06 PM »
CC,

Just thought I'd quickly add that we've just tried the recipe.? It's certainly one of the nicest dhals we've ever had, not sure if it's the ghee or the initial frying, but it does has a very lovely taste.

I can't say (yet) that it's smokey (though I haven't yet tried adding onions/garlic) but I was wondering exactly what you meant by "tossed" in the tempered oil?? After adding the dhal to the hot ghee, there is an initial vigorous frying/boiling, which quickly subsides as the ghee mixes with the dhal.? Is this what you mean, or did you have in mind a far more vigorous, prolonged high temperature blast in the oiled pan?

Thanks again,

Roy.

Offline CurryCanuck

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Re: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2006, 01:56 AM »
Hi Roy -
Toss the dhal on a slightly higher heat ensuring that it does not stick . The higher temperature in the oil should impart a subtle smokey flavor .

Cheers ,
CC

Offline Mark J

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Re: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2006, 06:57 AM »
I was talking to my BIR owner last week (about this site) and we got onto the subject of TD, I cant recall exactly what he said but I do remember him saying they fry dried garlic flakes in very hot oil, Ill ask him again when I get chance

Offline Roy22

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Re: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2006, 03:40 PM »
CC - Thanks for the further info, we shall do some more experimenting and get back to you.? I suppose that hot enough oil may well impart some smokiness?

Mark J - What you say is intriguing, I would be very grateful to hear any more detail you can get on this subject.? My experience of browning garlic is that it just creates a horrible bitter taste, ruining any recipe in moments.? I would have thought that putting pre-dried garlic flakes into very hot oil would be an even faster way down the same road, so I wait with interest for any more info you can obtain.

Thanks again,

Roy.


Offline curryqueen

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Re: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2006, 04:07 PM »
Hi Roy,  This is a dish I make every Saturday.  Cook your lentils according to your recipe, put into a serving dish and then heat some sesame oil, add 1 tsp cummin seeds and cook until they start to pop. Add your fresh garlic slices and cook until dark brown in colour.  This is the tarka and is tipped over the top of your dhal.  I have to have my tarka dhal every week, it is the best side dish ever.

Offline Roy22

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Re: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2006, 06:17 PM »
Curryqueen,

Thanks, I will try this idea too.? But I must admit, I've never heard of Sesame Oil being used in conventional Indian Cooking (perhaps it's more an Asian/Thai ingredient?), and I haven't noticed that distinctive "nutty" sesame oil taste in a dhal before.?

Where did you get this recipe from?

Roy.

Offline bhuna-boy

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Re: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2006, 07:21 PM »
Hello Roy,
As you will appreciate 'taste' is a very emotive thing. What one person means by smokey will be different to another. My interpretation of it comes from the turmeric. I make a dhansak evey other weekend (along with a jalfrezi as well) I add a heaped tsp of turmeric during the pre cooking stage of the lentils and the more I add the drier/smokier the taste becomes. Be careful though you can overdo it very easily to a point that it tastes unpleasantly dry.
Hope this helps.


 


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