The Indian Slow cooker: Cooking Dals in a crockpot/slow cooker/schongarer – a revelation

I’ve long been a fan of crockpots/slow cookers, especially for those dishes such as soups and stews which come out wonderfully. They are very common in the USA and in the UK, considerably less so in Germany and Switzerland. They are perfectly safe to leave unattended, since they never attain boiling temperatures. There’s been another winning use case that has been staring me in the eyes all along, and that’s making dals!

For those not in the know, dals are the staple food in India and one of the best protein sources for vegetarians. Dal is a generic name for legumes, or pulses, and a typical dish will always include at least one pulse (up to three) and a tarka, a seasoning made with oil, aromatics such as garlic and ginger, and spices. Dals are very nutritious and an incredible source of protein – in the case of urad dal, it contains more protein, weight-for-weight, than steak!

So I can heartily recommend this book, which I have already spontaneously sent to two friends:

The Indian Slow Cooker: 50 Healthy, Easy, Authentic Recipes

This book was the game-changer. Good, authentic recipes, with real ingredients, and the cooking process well explained. Super. A word of warning, though, the conversions to the metric system are completely wrong, you’ll need to stick to the american volume settings (i.e. you really need to have a set of measuring spoons and measuring cups)

Chef Aid Measuring Cups/ Spoons X8

The beauty of the slow cooker method is that you put all the ingredients, including the dry beans/lentils (which usually need to soak overnight), put it on – and that’s it. Depending on the recipe you’re looking at cooking times of five to fourteen hours.

Some tips:
– I would recommend doing a big buy in your local indian market. Stock up on spices and lentils so you don’t need to go to the indian shop again because you’ve forgotten to buy split urad dal.
– The spices often include grated ginger, onions or garlic. My local indian shop sells these pre-pasted in a jar, they’re not too expensive and it really reduces the effort to next to nothing.

Crockpots:
Dirk, a friend of mine, was enquiring about crockpots. There are basically two sizes, 3.5L and 6.5L. The book’s recipes are for the 6.5L version, which I find the most practical for dals because you make 3 full meals for 3-4 persons with it, so you end up freezing two meals, which is a huge time-saver.

Morphy Richards Slow Cooker 6,5l Edelstahl

Russell Hobbs Cook@Home 19790-56 Schongarer silber / schwarz

To tell you the truth, though, the technology is so basic that all of them are going to be good. The only decision you need to make is the size. I have both sizes.