An all-in-one-jar dal mix for gift-giving, with tomatoes and aromatics included – easy for the giver to prepare using packaged ingredients and spices, and simple for the recipient to make, as only simmering is necessary.
One Christmas in the 1980s, a well-meaning neighbor gave my mom a jarred dry bean soup mix. It sat in our pantry for years and never got made, because it called for additional ingredients we didn’t keep on hand.
Having seen lots of variations on holiday soup mixes over the years, and knowing that Indian recipes are enjoyed by but not a competency for most Americans, a dal mix occurred to me many years ago, but there was always The Tomato Problem and The Sautéing Aromatics Problem. I didn’t want to give a gift that’d clutter up the pantry because it needed another purchase or too many steps.
A decade ago, I ran across dehydrated tomato powder for the first time and thought ooh, I could make a tomato dal mix with that.
Within the last couple years, I ran across ready-toasted minced onion and roasted garlic powder and thought there’s the sautéing aromatics problem solved.
This is flavored with a dried tomato and aromatics blend that calls on freeze-dried ingredients, plus a masala of toasted and untoasted spices. It eschews tempering because of its unfamiliarity to many Americans. I made this for my neighbors, so it’s composed with Standard American Diet folks in mind; its spice blend is sweetly fragrant, with a light touch of green chiles.
Using the prepared mix only requires simmering the dal with water and butter, then adding the seasoning packet toward the end. Even the butter could be skipped, if needed.
So this recipe has been percolating since 1984, give or take, and I think it was worth the wait.
There are directions below to prepare one jar of mix or a dozen.
Complete Tomato Dal Mix in a Jar
An all-in-one-jar dal mix for gift-giving, with tomatoes and aromatics included - easy for the giver to prepare using packaged ingredients and spices, and simple for the recipient to make, as only simmering is necessary.
wooden spoon or spatula
small heatproof bowl
kitchen scale (optional)
small wax paper cookie bags or plastic treat bags
pint (16 oz) canning jars
For one jar:
Spice Masala: 1/2 t ground coriander 1/4 t ground cumin 1/2 t anise seed 3/4 t black peppercorns 1/8 t turmeric 1/2 t roasted garlic powder 1/4 t ground cardamom 1/8 t cinnamon 1/8 t ground cloves
Seasoning Mix: 10 t (29 g) tomato powder 1 t (1 g) freeze-dried green chiles 1 1/2 t freeze-dried ginger* 1 T (6.4 g) dried minced white onion 2 t (4.3 g) dried minced toasted onion 1 T (1.75 g) freeze-dried cilantro 1 3/4 t (10 g) table salt 1 T (14.5g) granulated sugar
To finish: 1/3 c (15 g) air-dried tomato flakes
Dal: 3/4 c (170 g) split yellow moong dal
For 12 jars:
Spice Masala: 2 T (12 g) ground coriander 1 T (6 g) ground cumin 2 T (15 g) anise seeds 3 T (33 g) peppercorns 1.5 t (6 g) turmeric 2 T (21 g) roasted garlic powder 1 T (9 g) ground cardamom 1.5 t (3 g) cinnamon 1.5 t (3 g) ground cloves
Seasoning Mix: 2.5 c (343 g) tomato powder 3/4 c (21 g) freeze-dried cilantro 1/4 c (12 g) freeze-green chiles 6 T (2 g) freeze-dried ginger* 3/4 c (77 g) dried minced white onion 1/2 c (52 g) dried minced toasted onion 7 T (120 g) table salt 3/4 c (174 g) granulated sugar
To finish: 4 c (180 g) air-dried tomato flakes
Dal: 9 c (2.04 kg) split yellow moong dal
- In a small skillet over low heat, toast the coriander and cumin, stirring, until fragrant. Turn them into a small heatproof bowl.
- In a spice grinder, buzz the anise seed and peppercorns until finely ground. Add them to the small bowl.
- Add the remaining ingredients of the spice masala – the turmeric, roasted garlic powder, ground cardamom, cinnamon, and ground cloves – to the small bowl. Mix thoroughly. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the seasoning mix ingredients – the tomato powder, freeze-dried green chiles, freeze-dried ginger, dried minced white onion, dried minced toasted onion, freeze-dried cilantro, table salt, and granulated sugar. Mix thoroughly but gently, as the tomato powder is fine and becomes airborne easily.
- For each jar being prepared, combine in a bag: – a slightly rounded tablespoon (1 T 1/8 t or 7 g) of the spice masala – a scant 1/2 c (66 g) of the seasoning mix – 1/3 c (15 g) air-dried tomato flakes Settle the ingredients into the bag, fold the top down, and tape or tie closed.
- Place each sealed bag into a pint canning jar. Using the jar funnel, add 3/4 c (170 g) of split yellow moong dal to each jar.
- Place the lid and ring on each jar and screw down the rings.
- Print as many copies of the instructions as jars being prepared. Using the hole punch, punch a hole in a corner of the instruction sheet. With the string, tie the instructions to the jar.
Tomato Dal Mix Instructions: Open jar and set seasoning packet aside. Pour dal into sieve and rinse under running water. Drain. Place dal in medium saucepan. Add 6 c water and 3 T butter. Simmer over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the dal disintegrates. Add contents of seasoning packet and simmer another 10 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender. Enjoy over rice, with papadums, or with your favorite flatbread. Makes six servings.
*I used Penzeys freeze-dried ginger; if using Litehouse, which is cut in larger pieces, and measuring by volume, press it into the measure.