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Author Topic: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?  (Read 13155 times)

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Offline curryqueen

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Re: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2006, 10:40 PM »
Hi Roy,  Please try it, unless you do you won't know.  I can assure you that it is the business.  If I don't have a tarka dhal the my meal iss not complete!

Offline CurryCanuck

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Re: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2006, 02:23 AM »
Seasame oil ...great taste ..great influence...but not BIR .


Offline curryqueen

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Re: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2006, 03:07 PM »
This recipe that I use each week came from a restaurant and I have had tarka dhal made this way in other restaurants too.  Other restaurants tend to either cook the garlic with the dhal or fry the garlic with veg oil/spiced oil and then mix it in with the dhal.  Maybe its a regional difference!

Offline Roy22

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Re: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2006, 03:38 PM »
Bhuna-boy - Turmeric is a colourant, the flavour being generally described as "wet cardboard".? I would be astonished if this could impart smokiness!

Curry Queen - Yes I will try your sesame oil recipe, but I would be surprised if such a non-indian oil was the basis of almost all UK Tarka Dhal recipes?? My quest for Smokey Tarka Dhal has lead me to many new really lovely dhals, all I've been glad to find, though none yet has been smokey.

CurryCanuck - Am in the process of experimenting with dhal frying.? Do you use a relatively liquid dhal (eg red lentils, which even after draining are still a liquid mush) or more solid dhals like split peas, which can be drained to leave a drier solid?? I'm just wondering if your frying trick requires a less liquid dhal, so that the oil isn't instantly cooled?

If you've ever had a truly smoked food, the smoke taste is unmistakable, if that makes things any clearer?!? I had started to wonder whether restaurants had some trick involving the tandoor (my local restaurant's is wood-fuelled, though many others are electric/gas) to quite literally put some kind of smoke taste into an ingredient?? Just a daft idea.

What I do know is that Indian Chefs can be very protective of their recipes.? In my local BIR, the owner told me that the chef sends him out of the way (on some errand) so that he can prepare his spice mixtures etc in secret!


Offline CurryCanuck

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Re: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?
« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2006, 06:27 PM »
Hi Roy -
I ususally use moong dhal - drain well after cooking and add to the ghee or oil along with garlic and onions .

Offline Roy22

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Re: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?
« Reply #15 on: March 12, 2006, 10:32 PM »
CurryQueen,

We've just tried your sesame oil recipe.? It certainly is a lovely dhal.? The browning of the garlic did impart some smokiness, but also there was a little of the acrid/bitter taste that browned garlic has.? Is was very enjoyable, but not exactly what we are seeking.

The browned garlic/cumin seeds were very visible in the yellow dhal.? I mention this, as having stared longingly into many a BIR dhal, it's rare to see anything brown in them.? Perhaps the odd bit of browned onion may be put in some, but most show nothing like the amount amount of browned material that the sesame recipe creates (to the degree that it darkened the yellow dhal to a brownish colour).

When you make it, do you separate out the browned cumin seeds & garlic, and then just use the oil?? Just a thought, as I was starting to wonder if perhaps restaurants flavour the oil by some such dark frying, but remove the bits to avoid passing on any unpleasant taste?

This certainly is one hell of a difficult problem to crack.? Does anyone have an Indian Granny they can cross-examine?!

Offline traveller

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Re: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?
« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2006, 08:39 AM »
I grew up eating dal (lentils) 5 days a week....I have never had it in a BIR but I will try to help out with some of the questions involving basics of indian cooking.  About not seeing bits in the dal, I suggest using roasted ground cumin powder instead of the whole seeds.  it will give a better flavor than the whole seeds. Perhaps the smell is almost smoky!  And only use ground spices - turmeric will give an interesting flavor as someone mentioned earlier in this thread - too much can ruin the taste.  But as for smokiness, it must be from the flavored oil (reused oil)...I dont know of any spice in indian cooking (other than the roasted ground cumin) that can impart smokiness!
Hope this is of some help.
Payal

Offline Roy22

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Re: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?
« Reply #17 on: March 13, 2006, 10:58 PM »
Payal,

We've done some futher experiments and are quite encouraged.? A mixture of ground cumin, garlic & turmeric when fried in oil and added to the dhal definitely gave some of the smokiness we seek.? Not quite the full amount, but we sense that we are on the right track!? Now, by adding all three, I can't say for sure which ingredient helped most, but I am starting to get some suspicions here...

Elsewhere on this forum, there's a discussion about "reclaimed oil", meaning using oil that has seen quite a bit of frying action before.? Here's the link if you want to check it out:

http://www.curry-recipes.co.uk/curry/index.php?topic=657.0

One of the conclusions to that discussion was that reused oil acquires a smokey taste, and that some BIR's use this to inject an extra flavour into their dishes.

One of the earlier posters in this thread mentioned the addition of dried garlic flakes to very hot oil, something that would clearly burn the garlic at once.? Well, I'm starting to think that this method is just a short-cut to create the smokey taste of well-used reclaimed oil.? Bits of burned garlic would obviously ruin any dish, so I'm starting to suspect that such bits are removed, and just the smoke-infused oil is used.

So my next experiment will be to burn garlic in oil and then use the oil alone, which I'll post the results of soon.

Offline curryqueen

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Re: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2006, 05:56 PM »
Hi Roy,

Taking out the burnt garlic would certainly be the way to go, as you will have the flavour in the oil.  Maybe this could be what you are looking for!  Are you going to try this with spiced oil?  I have done in the past.

Offline Roy22

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Re: What's the Secret of "Smokey" Tarka Dhal?
« Reply #19 on: March 16, 2006, 11:10 PM »
Bit of a backward step for last couple of days...

Yesterday, tried burning garlic in oil, and after removal of burnt bits, used oil to fry fresh garlic in.? But this this didn't work at all.

Today, tried burning up some cumin seeds as well as garlic, then after 'cleaning', used the oil to fry fresh garlic, cumin powder and asafoteda.? Result....nothing like the near-miss of a few days ago.

Bit perplexed at momentary success earlier this week, must have touched upon something a bit more transient than just adding the right ingredient.? But fear not, more experiments on the way, plus we've been pointed at another tarka recipe to try claiming to have that elusive smokey taste!? Will crack this one way or another.....

Roy.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2006, 11:12 PM by Roy22 »


 


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