Panchmel Dal or Mixed Dal, as it is more popularly known, is a dish made with a mix of various kinds of lentils. Panchmel literally translates to "five mix" and traditionally this recipe was made using a mix of these five kinds of lentils - chana, toor, masoor, moong and urad.
Different Kinds of Lentils used in Panchmel Dal:
Toor Dal - The Toor Dal, is dull yellow in colour and is most often the base for many South Indian specialties like Sambhar. They need to soak for a few hours before cooking, and take longer to boil down to a soft edible center.
Chana Dal - The Chana Dal, or split-pea lentils have a deep yellow colour and look like the halves of a chickpea, only in a smaller size. They take the longest to cook and are extremely compatible with both, the pressure cooker as well as a slow cooker.
Black Urad Dal - Being black in color and taking the shape of a tiny bean is probably what sets this Dal apart from its various counterparts. It takes fairly long to cook and needs to be soaked overnight to soften the beans. This black lentils is the main ingredient in the classic Dal Makhani.
Masoor Dal - The red Masoor lentils are most commonly used in many homes. They take the shortest time to cook and require no pre-soaking whatsoever. This type of lentils is usually found in everyday meals and make a quick go-to dish when you’re running short of time.
Green Moong Dal - These lentils look like tiny beans and are green in colour. They are also commonly cooked till tender and used in salads like my Mung Bean Salad recipe here.
These five kinds of lentils are the usual staples in many Indian pantries, but I often just use a mix of whatever I have on hand. Switching up the kinds of lentils used with give you a slightly different flavour and texture each time.
How to Buy and Store Lentils:
When shopping for lentils, it is most important to note how much of an effort you are actually willing to spend in their cooking process. Lentils come in varied sizes, shapes and colors, each equipped with its own distinct flavor and commendable cooking times. Many of them cooked be cooked in similar ways, but don’t let the difference in tastes of each of them surprise you.
This recipe for Panchmel Dal is best made using the Instant Pot or ay pressure cooker, for that matter. Lentils like chana and green moong take slightly longer to cook, so keep in mind that cooking this recipe over a stove-top will require much more time.
This Dal is great when you have a little of many different kinds of lentils in your pantry and want to make something quick and wholesome. It pairs great with rice and a salad or chutney on the side. There's definitely something about a good hearty bowl of Dal-Chawal. Be it a cold winter night, a sizzling hot summer afternoon, or coming home tired after a long day at work, Dal-Chawal is the kind of comfort food most Indians crave for. And why not? With the wide variety of Dal recipes available throughout the subcontinent, there is no way one can get bored of it. If you're looking for more Dal recipes, I have a ton that can be found here.
How to Serve Dal:
An everyday Indian meal usually comprises of some rice, a few Rotis, a Dal and a vegetable, accompanied with some yoghurt, pickle and a light salad. When you’re in no mood to go the whole mile, Dals are best enjoyed with simply rice and a dash of pickle. In many Indian households, a different Dal is cooked each day, accompanied with a complimenting vegetable.
How to Store leftover Dal:
I like to make a big pot of Dal and freeze a batch for busy nights when I’m in not much of a mood to cook. Dal, like most stews, freezes beautifully and can be stored in the freezer for up to a week. When you are ready to reheat and serve the Dal, simple let it thaw overnight in the fridge, and come to room temperature before warming it in the microwave.
Instant Pot Panchmel Dal (Mixed Dal)
- 2 tablespoon light cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2-3 large garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 medium-sized onion finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 large tomato finely chopped
- ¼ cup red lentils, also known as masoor dal thoroughly washed and drained
- ¼ cup yellow lentils, also known as toor dal thoroughly washed and drained
- ¼ cup yellow split peas, also known as chana dal thoroughly washed and drained
- ¼ cup black lentils, also known as urad dal thoroughly washed and drained
- ¼ cup green mung beans, also known as moong dal thoroughly washed and drained
- 3 cups water
- finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
- Turn on the Instant Pot and set to Saute mode. Once it's heated, add in oil and cumin seeds.
- Once the cumin seeds start to sizzle, add in the garlic and chopped onions. Fry for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, till onions start to brown.
- Add in spices, salt and tomato paste, and give it a quick mix. Add in chopped tomatoes and let it cook for a couple of minutes till the tomatoes start to soften and break down.
- Mix in the lentils and water and let it come to a quick boil. Put on the lid and set the Instant Pot to manual Pressure Cook mode for 10 minutes, making sure that the valve in on the sealing position.
- Let the pressure release naturally before removing the lid. Give it a good stir and garnish with cilantro leaves before serving.
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