Sookhi means dry in Hindi. It means that less water is used to make this dish, so that the dal is cooked, but it's not soupy. Typically, this recipe is made with either a split and skinned green moong dal (though it looks yellow) (pictured above) or a split and skinned black urad dal (it looks white). This may sound confusing at first, but you'll get it once you start working with different dals and their different forms. For reference, turn to the two-page photo spread of legumes on page 118 of my book, Indian For Everyone. The two dals I refer to are on the far left in the second and third row of images. I've cut the water to basically a 1:1 ratio of dal to water. But, it was slightly challenging in the Instant Pot. I had to pull back the water even more and the cook time as well. This is a fast-cooking dal and every time I made it, it came out looking like mush. Until I finally got the ratio just right. Eat this with Indian bread like roti or as a salad with lettuce. When I want to go lower carb, I will top this with sauteed veggies like mushrooms and eat it just like that.
Desi Corner: This dish is one of my husband's absolute favorites - and he loves our moms' versions. Why maybe I could never get it just right. I felt a little intimidated. Every time I made it, it just did not come out the way my mom or his mom made it. With this recipe, I finally nailed it! I am dancing.
Dry Spiced Dal - Sooki Dal
Pressure Cooker Size: 3 quart or larger
Warm Up: 8 minutes
Cook: 3 minutes
Cool Down: Manual release time
TOTAL: 11 minutes plus manual release time
Makes: 6 cups
2 cups duhli moong dal (dried, split, and skinned green dal), picked over and washed (they look yellow) or duhli urad dal (split and skinned black dal), picked over and washed (no need to soak)
2 teaspoons oil or ghee
1 pinch hing (asafoetida) (optional)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ small yellow or red onion, minced
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-3 Thai or serrano chiles, stems removed, thinly sliced
1 small tomato, finely diced
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons amchur powder (dried mango powder)
2 teaspoons red chile powder or cayenne
2 teaspoons salt
1 ½ cups water
¼ cup chopped cilantro, for garnish
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, for garnish
1. Place the inner cooking pot in your Instant Pot. Select the SAUTE setting and adjust to MORE. When the indicator flashes HOT, add the oil, hing, and cumin. Cook for 1 minute.
2. Add the turmeric. Cook for 40 seconds.
3. Add the onion. Cook for 1 minute.
4. Add the ginger, garlic, and fresh chiles. Cook for 30 seconds.
5. Add the tomato. Cook for 30 seconds. Press CANCEL.
6. Add the garam masala, amchur, red chile, and salt. Stir well. Add the dal and stir again.
7. Add the water. No need to stir.
8. Lock the lid into place. Make sure that the pressure release valve is in place and set to the sealing position (upwards). Press the PRESSURE COOK button until the panel indicates MORE and adjust the time to pressure cook for 3 minutes.
9. Once the cooking is complete, manually release the pressure. Use a dish cloth to cover the steam valve if needed.
10. Garnish with cilantro and lemon juice. Stir well and serve with Indian bread like roti or naan, or stuffed in a pita. Serve on its own as a side salad as well.