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Chana Dal Pilaf
This is a wonderful and light vegetarian rice dish.

Channa Daal is the round dried split-pea. Very similar to yellow split peas but slightly smaller. The dried lentils have a crown covering when split they are a pale yellow color inside. Split Channa daal is used to make curries and is used also in many vegetarian dishes. 

The daal is ground to a fine yellow flour. This flour is called "Besan" which is used to make batters for Pakoras and to thicken curries and bhaajis. You can find it in Indian grocery stores whole or split. 

1/2 c  Vegetable oil
2  Bay leaves
6  Peppercorns
6  Black cardamom pods
6   Whole cloves
1/3  Cinnamon stick; (1" piece)
1 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1 c  Chana dal (soaked in water for 2 hours and drained)
3 c Basmati rice
 1 tbsp Salt
 4 1/2 - 5 c Water

Heat oil in pressure cooker on medium-high heat. Add bay leaves, peppercorns, cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon and cumin seed. Stir for a few seconds till the cumin seeds sizzle. Add the soaked channa dal. Stir fry for about 3 minutes. Add rice. Stir fry till rice turns opaque (approximately 3 minutes). Add salt and water. Stir.

Close cooker. Bring to full pressure on high heat. Reduce heat and cook for 3 minutes. Remove cooker from heat. Allow to cool. Press finger-tip control lightly to release pressure. Open cooker. Fluff up rice gently with a fork to separate grains. Serve hot, accompanied with yogurt.

The flavors from the whole spices add a lot of flavor to the simple pilaf. 


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