Not too long back, the world was smaller. I ruminate as I stir my pot of Komola Moong Dal this morning.
Washington apples, Chinese mandarins, Atlantic salmon or Chilean sea-bass had not yet invaded our kitchens. Science had still not forayed into the mind-boggling universe of crazy genetic mutations.
You waited, patiently, for the Good Earth to bless you with her bountiful produce.
And unlike in today’s world of crass consumerism, where, thanks to the magic of biotechnology and the supreme power of logistics, anything is available at your doorstep any time, you watched in anticipation as seasons flew. The grey winter gave in to the colorful spring. The monsoons quenched the thirst of the earth after the scorching summers. And each season arrived in ostentatious style with her own bouquet of produce – her very own fruit, vegetables, grains or even fish.
The Ratnagiri Alphonsos, for instance, that heralded the onset of summer. Or that first crop of Muzaffarpur litchis.
The first Hilsa from the Padma just before the rains.
The Himachali apples that announced autumn.
The first harvest of gobindobhog rice and the first pot of date jaggery. That ushered in winter. Or the first harvest of gorgeous oranges.
This season’s first Nagpur oranges and I cook Komola Moong Dal, yet another quintessential Bengali classic. From Grandma’s kitchen. Moong Dal cooked with luscious orange segments in orange juice. Just a bit of ginger and a couple of green chillies for that pleasant heat.
And that nutty aroma of roasted moong dal blended harmoniously with the citrus fragrance from the orange is enough to send your olfactory senses to an ecstasy! !!!
Komola Moong Dal (Moong Dal With Oranges)
- 250 g yellow moong dal
- 2 oranges peeled and the segments separated
- 100 ml fresh orange juice
- 2 tbsp raisins soaked in water for 15 minutes
- 70 g paneer or homemade chhana cut into small cubes
- 1 tsp ginger grated
- 2-3 green chilies slit
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 green cardamom
- 2 cloves
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1/2 tbsp mustard oil
- 1/2 tbsp ghee
- sugar to taste
- salt to taste
- Dry roast the moong dal till golden brown. Wash and soak for 15 minutes. Drain the dal and keep aside.
- Soak the paneer cubes in warm salt-water for 10 minutes. Drain from water and keep aside.
- Cook the moong dal with 11/2 cups of water until just cooked. Care needs to be taken that the dal does not become too mushy.
- Heat oil in a deep bottomed pot, when smoking hot, add the crushed cinnamon, green cardamom, cloves and bay leaves. Allow the spices to splutter and release their aroma.
- Dissolve the turmeric powder in a little water and add the paste to the pot.
- Now add the grated ginger, saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Gently pour in the boiled dal, add the raisins, chhana cubes, salt, sugar and green chilies, bring to a simmer.
- Add the orange juice and orange segments. Simmer for a further 3-4 minutes. The consistency of the dal should be slightly thick. If too thick, add warm water till the consistency is right.
- Adjust seasonings. And finish it off with a dollop of ghee.
- Serve with rice.