When we moved out from Texas, we had everything packed and shipped (to reach to us 2 weeks later) and forgot to keep a pressure cooker with me. Since Alok would only pick up the shipment from storage a month later, and since I already had 3 pressure cookers in the cartons, I did not want to purchase another one for the month. That meant cooking our mixed vegetable dal without a pressure cooker every day. It reminded me of a reader who once asked me how to cook chickpeas and red kidney beans without a pressure cooker because she forgot to bring one from India.
This post is for those who want to cook lentils, but don't have a pressure cooker, or destroyed one because of excess/less water (I did last month =P).
Guess what? Cooking lentils when you don't have a pressure cooker is LESS complicated. How?
a) You don't have to worry about too much or too little water destroying the pressure cooker
b) You don't have to worry about the whistle flying off or spoiling the safety valve
c) You don't have to worry about keeping track of the number of whistles
But the major disadvantage? What you get done in 15 minutes in a pressure cooker takes 40 minutes in a pot/pan. Wasting gas energy/electricity. For those whose meals consist of dal every day, it's smarter to cook dal fast in a pressure cooker. You can click here to learn basics of cooking dal in a pressure cooker.
And for cooking dal in a pan, without pressure cooker...
1) rinse dal (1 cup toor dal/arhar dal in this case) as usual and soak in water minimum for an hour or two.
2) heat double the amount of water in a pot/pan and let dal boil in the water on medium heat. On medium/high heat if you cover the lid, foam from dal will rise and come out of the pot and make a mess, so avoid covering it unless you want to cook it on low heat. Let the dal boil/cook in water for about 30-40 minutes and remove the foam from top.
3) test a small amount, mash between fingers to check if it is soft. At this point, you can use it for cooking right away, or let cool and store in refrigerator for 3 days, or freeze in small amounts and store for months, like so:
Continue to use this boiled, tender dal as explained in the Dal # 2: two-pot mixed vegetable dal recipe. To add variety every day, I use different vegetables. Sometimes I skip curry leaves, or dry red chilies, or garlic/ginger pastes, etc. Whatever works.
And then mix the boiled (or pressure cooked) dal with the vegetables.
And enjoy a different kind of dal every day. Without worrying about the pressure cooker for the moment.
But to save your time, money, energy, and gas/electricity - buy a pressure cooker. ASAP.
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