Dal is the Hindi word for pulses, those versatile beans, lentils, and peas that are such an important part of the Indian diet. Most Indians have some kind of dal at almost every meal.

Curried Chickpeas

1 1/2 c. (12 oz.) chickpeas, washed and drained
5 c. water
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
3 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 tsp. cumin seed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp. chopped fresh coriander leaves

1. Put chickpeas in a bowl. Add enough cold water to cover and soak overnight.

2. To cook, drain chickpeas. Place chickpeas, water, turmeric, cumin, coriander, and cayenne in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover pan, and simmer for about 1 hour.

3. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add cumin seed and cook for 1 minute. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until onion turns golden brown.

4. Add chickpeas and cooking liquid to onion mixture. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cover pan, reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes, or until chickpeas are tender but not mushy. Mix well.

5. Place chickpeas in a serving dish and sprinkle with coriander leaves.

Preparation time: 15 minutes (plus overnight soaking)
Cooking time: 1 1/2 hours
Serves 6 to 8

*Eaten with a starchy food like bread or rice and a milk product such as yogurt, dal forms the basis of a well-balanced diet.