Bele saaru means dal curry. It is the number 1 comfort food of South Indians. When we are away from home, on a vacation, or at a restaurant with bad food, the only thing that comes to mind, is relishing this curry and rice back home!
It can be made plain, with just dal, onion and tomatoes, or with a variety of vegetables. You may use potatoes, beans, carrot, chayote-squash, drumsticks and egg plant.
What I use: Serves 4
½ cup thogri bele (toor dal, yellow or orange)
1 medium tomato diced
1 medium onion diced
1 cup veggies (any or all of them diced potatoes, beans, carrot, chayote-squash, drumstick, eggplant)
1 tsp curry powder
1/2tsp tamarind paste or 1tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp sugar
½ tsp hing
Salt to taste
1tsp ghee/oil, ½ tsp each – mustard and cumin seeds, 3 or 4 curry leaves and whole red chilies.
Soak the dhal in enough water for 30 minutes. In a pan/pressure cooker pan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the dhal, onions and tomatoes. Let it cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat. You may also give it a pressure cook for 10 minutes.
On a parallel stove, cook the diced vegetables, on medium heat; with a pinch of salt and 1 cup water.
Once both are cooked, pour vegetables into the dhal. In the empty pan, add ghee. On medium heat, add mustard and cumin seeds. When they splatter, add curry leaves and red chilies. Completely lower the heat. Add the curry powder, salt, sugar and hing. Add the tamarind paste or lime juice. Give it a stir, to get rid of any lumps, when the ghee and powder combine, add a little dhal water, and let it simmer for 2 minutes.
Bring the heat back up to medium. Add the dhal and vegetables. Let it cook for another 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with soft cooked rice.