A highpoint of my recent visits to Punjab was my visit to several langars – from Guru Ram Das Langar at Golden Temple to the Langar at Tarn Taran to the Langars of unknown Gurudwaras on the way from one city to the other. I realized a hearty meal requires nothing more than a dal and a roti. But that meal has to be made with a lot of love. The Maa ki Dal at any Langar tastes as delicious as the other. A sevadar at a Langar had told me, “No fixed proportion of onion, garlic, green chilli but a fixed proportion of love is what makes Langar ki Dal.”
His words reverberated in my mind ever since I came back.
An attempt to make the dal
Kali Dal and Dal Makhani etc can easily be made at home or ordered but Langar Ki dal is a tad bit different. I had ready provisions of the black urad dal, the channa dal, onion,tomatoes and but for day I stopped short of trying to make it at home.
After some stressful days at work, I felt the need to push myself to make the dal soon. That indispensable ingredient needed for making the dal as the sevadar had told me was with me for sometime now.
The day I made the dal, the proportion of the black urad dal and channa dal was perfect, and for the proportion of love into its making I was not a miser, gave my best abdy after a whole days work, shaped the dal like a dream coming true.
How I made the Dal
The Langar ki Dal was made and served with a dry thick roti flavoured with ajwain. I made it for a friend who deserved every morsel of it, who earned it for his beautiful self.
For the making of the Langar ki Dal I learnt from the sevadar that there is no fixed proportion, no fine cuts,no fine cooking techniques were needed. I soaked Black Urad Dal and Channa Dal in the proportion of 3:1 overnight.
For Langar ki dal everything is chopped coarsely but with love.I chopped the onions in thick uneven strips, crushed garlic, ginger and green chilli to a coarse texture.The tomatoes were also chopped .
I boiled the two dals with salt, turmeric, ginger and garlic shreds.
For cooking Langar ki Dal one has to use desi ghee. Once the ghee reached a smoking point, added whole cumin. As they spluttered in a tune, added the roughly ground ginger, garlic and green chilli.
Added the onions, once translucent added the tomatoes. When mushy added corriander powder, red chilli powder and sauted it till the ghee separated. To it added the boiled dal, some water and covered it. Lowered the heat and simmered it for a good 30 minutes.As I stood at the kitchen while the dal simmered and the aroma enticed me, I in my mind put in a lot of love to the simmering pot. After a while added some chopped corriander leaves and covered it.
For the tadka, in pure ghee I spluttered dried Kasuri Methi leaves and whole garam masala. Added this to the dal and and covered it to seal in the flavor.
The Langar ki Dal ceased to be just a dal, it became a reflection of the most basic needs of living – food and love. The making of it strengthened my sensibilities and sharpened my beliefs in chance meetings and destinies which are pre written for us all.