Sultani Dal, a sinfully delicious Kanpur and Lucknow speciality is a unique preparation of the Awadh region. Though “eminent historians” of the British Raj claimed that this dish was an innovation of the Mughals and later refined by the Nawabs of Awadh, the truth is this dish has been in existence for centuries.
Dal is an important component of Indian cuisine and a variety of dishes are made from the different types of dal grown locally. Sanskrit literature, poetry and manuscripts on the Chatushashti Kalas (64 arts of the universe) of which the art of fine cooking is one has illustrated in detail the nutritional, medicinal and healing properties of dal and the best way to prepare it.
Sultani Dal is made from tur dal, milk, cream and curd. A cup of tur dal is soaked for a few hours, cleaned thoroughly and cooked in the pressure cooker with a pinch of turmeric powder and salt.
In a large kadai, a couple of teaspoons of oil is added to which cumin seeds, ginger paste, garlic paste, finely chopped green chillies and onions are added. The onions are sautéed in the masala for a few minutes. Finely chopped tomatoes, mint leaves and coriander leaves are added.
The mashed dal is mixed into the simmering masala. A little clove and cardamom powder are added. A little curd, milk and cream are mixed in a bowl and added slowly to the dal and allowed to blend on low flame.
This rich dal is served with either hot rotis or rice.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian