Spicy Tadka Dal, Steamed Rice and Mughlai Shammi Kebab!

The Two Left Spatulas Kitchen, cooking, whisk, utensils
By Kanchan Char

~Let’s start at the very beginning πŸ˜€ ~

*I would love for you to have a framework for my recipes so if you could step this way and read my small introduction into the Tales from my Two-Left-Spatulas Kitchen, it would all make a bit more sense! πŸ™‚ Please feel free to ask me any questions or clarify any doubts! All ingredients are readily available at most British Supermarkets, but give me a shout if you need any further instructions! Happy cooking πŸ™‚ xxx

Almost every State in India (and we have a fair few)- has a version of the humble lentil soup that we call Dal. In regular home meals, dal is included several times a week..well, it was in my family!Β  Because it’s such a versatile dish, it can be made thicker to go with naans or rotis, or quite frankly, any breaded accompaniment! (I’ve had dal with a beautifully crusty, seeded loaf) It can also be made a bit thinner in consistency to go delectfully with rice and pulao! It’s fairly common to add either a vegetable dish or a meat one alongside the staple dal and rice and that’s why today I’ve decided to share the recipe for a simple, healthy Tadka Dal, Basmati rice, and Mughlai Shammi Kebab.

~Our Everyday Tadka dal~

Tadka Dal, Basmati Rice, Mughlai Shammi Kebab, coriander, indian, curry
Tadka Dal, Basmati Rice, Mughlai Shammi Kebab!

What you’ll need:

  • One cup moong dal/spilt skinned mung lentils (yellow, the whole ones are green)
  • 1 medium size onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium size tomato, chopped
  • Β½ inch ginger, finely chopped or grated
  • ΒΌ tsp red chili powder
  • β…“ tsp turmeric powder
  • 3 cups water
  • salt as required
  • Thin whole green chillis (that’s the recommendedΒ  variety for all Indian recipes and are available in Tesco, Sainsburys and Waitrose) use as desired. We use 2 per cup of raw lentils.
The basics of Indian cooking, if you have this, you're good to go! ginger, garlic, curry leaves, coriander, chillis, cumin
The basics of Indian cooking, if you have this, you’re good to go!
The Tadka (seasoning once the dal is cooked)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4-5 garlic, chopped fine (do not use garlic paste)
  • ΒΌ black mustard seeds (available in the herbs and spices section at Tesco, Sainsburys and Waitrose)
  • Optional: 1 or 2 dried red chillis . It gives the seasoning a smokey heat…probably best left if you’re not massively into spicy food or while using dal in a healing/detoxing capacity!
  • curry leaves
  • 2 tbsp oil or ghee (if you chose oil, stick with sunflower as it’s taste is most compatible with Indian cuisine)
  1. Add the dal, ginger, chopped onions, chillis, tomato, turmeric powder and the water to a pressure cooker or large pot. The choice of utensil slightly changes the texture of the dal, but both are equally viable options!
  2. stir well and pressure cook till the dal is cooked and soft. Two whistles on the cooker, or till you see the dal get soft enough to smash into a paste
  3. once the pressure settles down, remove the lid and stir the dal.
  4. if the dal looks too thick, then add some hot water and simmer for 1-2 minutes.
  5. add salt and keep aside

(Most experienced cooks claim that it’s in the best interests of lentils to add the salt after they’ve been cooked. There are various myths about the Why of the matter -one is that the lentils don’t break down easy if they meet salt early on in the cooking process. I have no real idea why, but have learnt to appreciate these little nuances as part of the joy of Asian cooking…Asian anything really…”why? who knows…it’s been the same way for 100’s of years!” πŸ˜€ )

Once the lentils are cooked, smash it down with a wooden spoon to the consistency you prefer. I mash half of the lot and let some remain whole, that to me, is the best texture.

mung dal, tadka dalThe dal when it’s nearly done and ready to be seasoned!
  • In a small pan, add the oil and set the flame on low, when the oil is hot (not smoking), lift off the heat and add chopped garlic and fry till garlic seems a bit caramelised, then add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dried red chilli and curry leaves You can return it to the heat, but see that none of the spices burn or the dal will taste bitter.
  • Add this to the cooked, hot dal and hear it sizzle as the tastes and aromas start to blend together! Garnish with washed ,freshly chopped coriander! (The chopped, frozen varieties work as well, so don’t fret if you don’t find a fresh bunch around! πŸ™‚ )

Steamed Basmati rice is made with a ratio of 1:2 . One cup rice to two cups plain water. Add a tad bit of salt and get it going on the hob till done! Don’t stir it more than once whilst half done. On finish, fork it through before serving. I sometimes put mine in the microwave for 14 minutes full power (for 1 cup)- done to perfection! For a more lavish serving, add some ghee or butter to the mix before cooking, a small dollop!

~Mughlai Shammi Kebab~

Other than the Indian subcontinent, this variety of kebab is apparently popular even as far as Iran and Azerbaijan! With subtle differences, in my opinion, this dish has made it’s way to every area that was influenced by the Mughals. My mother learnt to make this from her very close Muslim friend -Jameela aunty, and I have very fond memories of watching the both of them making it!Β  It’s goes great with beers and I have snapshots in my head of my parents’ cards and beer parties wrapped in the wafting smells of freshly made shammi kebabs and tandoori chicken! πŸ™‚

These kebabs are a slightly labour-intensive process, but the good news is that you can make a lot in one go, and they do so well with home freezing! You’ll never be without a snack when friends pop in! πŸ™‚ Makes a lovely picnic when you make sandwiches with it, use pita bread, or just a regular bap! The possibilities are endless!


What you’ll need :

  • 1 Cup chana dal (Bengal gram or split yellow peas), soaked in cold water for about an hour
  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 60g fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 Kg lean mince (beef or lamb)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3-4 fresh green thin chillies, roughly chopped, with seeds (available at Tesco, Sainsburys and Waitrose)
  • handful of coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Β½ tsp red chilli powder
  • Β½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1Egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • Vegetable oil for shallow-frying

Traditionally, this is made with boneless meat, but I find that that without our Indian standard mixer-grinders (semi-industrial grade πŸ˜› ), it just won’t be broken down to a pate-like consistency! ~Trust me, I have two broken food processors to show πŸ™‚ Mince works just as well!

Β Method :

  • In a pressure cooker, add meat, drained chana dal, (lightly saute chopped onions, ginger, garlic, chillies, coriander, salt, cumin seeds and garam masala before adding to the meat),add just enough water to cover everything and cook for 20 mins! This can also be done without a pressure cooker, in which case cook till the dal is soft and mashable! The whole lot should be dry now, or continue cooking without the lid till water evaporates. Cool.
  • In a food processor, blend batches of the well stirred meat, dal and spices adding some fresh coriander leaves till it’s a fairly smooth consistency. (here is where I double check salt and spices, it’s all cooked, so you’re safe to do so!) I usually tend to add a few more chillies since we like our food flaming hot πŸ˜› It all minces down well and the flecks of green coriander look so inviting!
Meat, shammi kebab mix, lentils, spices
Looking grim, but smelling delectable right now πŸ™‚
  • Put the blended meat in a large dish and add 2 tbsp of cornflour to bind it! You may need a little more or less, I’ll leave that with you, but you should be able to form patties like this, rather effortlessly. If it’s too soft to hold, add a bit more flour or it’ll fall apart while frying.
Shammi Kebab patties, meat, lentil, spice
They should form nice, firm patties..
  • Now, in a separate bowl, beat up the one egg lightly and get the frying pan going on a medium flame with the oil enough to shallow fry. Make about 12 patties at a time and line up, this moves fast πŸ™‚ Take one, quickly dunk in the egg wash so it’s covered in a thin coat, remove excess by letting it drip off and drop carefully in the oil. Let it fry till brown on both sides and firm so doesn’t crack. It’s about 2 minutes/per batch .
Shallow frying the shammi kebabs
Shallow frying the shammi kebabs
  • Serve with a wedge of lime and drink of choice as a snack or make it a part of a larger meal! It’s all good πŸ˜€


Health highlight : Because I’m also working at eating healthyΒ home-cooked food, and very often Indian food is seen as aΒ  greasy, rich and unhealthy option; I’d like to draw your attention to how you’ve used 2 tbsp of oil in the dal that will feed a family of four, twice! The meat is largely boiled and you’ll see that the shallow frying does not take up much oil. To go down a healthier, if slightly not-so-popular path, omit the egg wash and fry the patties off plain, that takes up a whole 2 tbsp less! The shammi kebab mix will give you roughly about 20 patties, serving a family of four over two times!

NOTE FOR FREEZING: Put patties onto a tray or large plate and freeze thoroughly before stacking and storing. If you stack them up before they’re frozen,Β  it’ll all become one large block of frozen kebab mix. I learned this the hard way!! πŸ˜€

(This post was featured in the Britmums February Foodie Round up! )

Enjoy! xxx


You might also enjoy :

Woody Allen, β€˜Fell-apples’, Borscht and Lurve!

Raising My Children My Mother’s Way! πŸ™‚



  1. says

    Beautiful photographs!

    Dal is one of my favourite things- I don’t understand how people survive without it as a part of their lives. I also think it can be quite difficult to photograph because of its consistency- it doesn’t always present in the most.. appealing (?) manner, but I think your photographs are proving me wrong quite handily!

    I remember our first year of not living in India, my mum cried over how useless the blenders were. We lugged an Usha mixer-grinder back with us on our next holiday to the homeland. My mum (and my tummy) was happier for it.

  2. says

    Your comment made me smile! πŸ™‚ Embarassingly, it hasn’t been left out from our lives either, but I used to buy boxes of MTR ready-to-eat cans by the dozens because I found the whole concept of making Indian food here so fidgety and labour intensive! All it really takes is some organizing and a tiny amount of grit πŸ™‚
    2014 is a year of many commitments for the Chars, health being one…and also, I would not want my children to be as traditionally vacant as I am! I see the joy of them helping me in the kitchen, if it’s just measuring scoops of dal or rice from a jar. Food has always had associations with magic…the joy of existance. Physiology stands testimony to that…and as parents, you get one chance to get it right. With the degeneration of our most common foods into chemical cesspools, I couldn’t continue with the ten minute meals, especially when I have a heritage at my disposal! For the first time, I totally miss the good old Usha Mixer Grinder πŸ™‚ I remember going to a launch show when I was little, and watching it take a whole coconut apart in under two minutes! A truly jaw-dropping moment! πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing…xxx

  3. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    Brilliant. Send me a pic when you do, Pinky…and thanks for reading πŸ™‚
    Much love. Xxx πŸ™‚

  4. Reshma Lulla says

    Hey these seem nice. I’m going to try to see how close i get to this….Awesome stuff πŸ˜€

  5. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    Reshma Lulla, that’s lovely, let me know how you get on with it πŸ™‚ All the best! x

  6. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    Hi Alison, thanks for stopping by… Please do try the kebabs, they’re delectable and very easy to do once you know how ! πŸ™‚ I have a small giveaway on my facebook page -some free authentic asian goodies for anyone who posts a picture of any of my family recipes! Hope you have fun trying these. xx

  7. says

    I am a huge fan of tarka dal, and have never made it… I will pin your recipe right now to make sure I give it a go next time I make jalfrezi curry. Mel #RecipeoftheWeek

  8. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    Hi Mel, thanks for coming by! I love the way your blog looks, so chic!! πŸ™‚ You will be amazed as to how simple and improvisable tadka dal is πŸ™‚ I hope you do give it a go! If you do and post a pic on my facebook page, I’ll send you a little gift in the post. That’s open to all my UK readers πŸ™‚ . All the best…going to connect with you on Pinterest! xxx

  9. says

    That’s what I say, always have rice and another veg or meat dish together with dal. And those kebabs will make your dreams come true and make you happen, I’d say. Looks great!

  10. says

    Hi Chris,

    Thank you for stopping by, always a pleasure to meet new people! πŸ™‚
    I’m glad you liked the recipes and hope that you’ll be inspired to try out the kebabs? Give me a shout if you do and tell me how it went! I’ll be very chuffed. πŸ™‚
    This is my journey back into our culinary roots- I’m very uninformed about Indian food and hope to not pass that on to my children! Traditionally, dal and rice is never eaten on their own, not sure if it’s because it’s a food recommended as recovery when you’ve been ill and therefore just lacks lustre. Pleasure to have come across your blog, which I’ve bookmarked, so hopefully our paths will cross again. X

  11. says

    This all looks amazing!!! Thank you for linking up to #recipeoftheweek. It’s always appreciated πŸ™‚ I’ve Pinned and Tweeted this post and there’s a new linky just gone live – would love you to join in x

  12. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    Thank you Emily, that’s fantastic! πŸ™‚ I’m overwhelmed at the response I’ve had on this recipe, especially as I’m not a great cook at all! Realy does inspire me to do a few more! Will check out the linky asap. Thanks for stopping by! x


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