Being Indian, and bought up on typical desi meals, Dal has been a staple dish served over lunch and dinner. After years and years of eating dal – Dal tadka, Gujarati Dal, Dal Langarwale, Kaali dal, etc etc, all felt so mundane – so overrated and so damned boring. At some point, I just lost faith in Dal!!
At a wedding recently, I saw the tag read Sailani Dal. Now that sounded completely new and something I had never heard of, let alone eat. I timidly tried a spoon, hoping my boredom towards dal would not bias my taste. My eyes sprang open, and my mouth instantly watered for more. I quickly filled up a soup bowl and made a meal of the dal.
The taste, the different flavours stayed in my mind for the longest time. It’s like one of those right moments when you read, smell or taste something, your senses just inhale it and push it deep into your conscious mind, keeping that memory forever fresh. And at any time when you bring it to your mind, it feels like it happened only a few moments ago.
Completely besotted, I went online for a hunt for the word “Sailani”. What was it? Turns out, it was the Maharaja of Sailana who invented this recipe. The Sailana’s hail from the Indian, Princely State of Madhya Pradesh. They were avid foodies and revamped recipes not only from their hometown but from all over India. In the 1980’s a book of their recipes was published but is no longer available easily.
The dal itself is super easy to make. Even the ingredients are minimal. The recipe calls for Toor (Arhar – Split pigeon peas). I urge you to use the best quality spices while making the Sailani Dal. Eat it with rice, or roti – it’s up to you. But eat it you must-
PS_ dedicating this recipe to my baby girl Kanak, who sits far away in the USA. She had loved this dal when I made it for her. HEY! Kanak – do try this out and send me pictures. KISS KISS!!