The everyday question from my kitchen!
Does it sound familiar to you as well? Ki pou cuit? The ode to every kitchen that drives Mums out there crazy. To be honest even I face this struggle from time to time. What to put on the table that will spare me the Mmmm, Ermmm and Nayyy. Mauritius and its rich Culinary Culture work hands in hands. Nothing out there that you put on the table or eat anywhere around the Island, comes empty handed. Everything has a story , from the di-pain di-bere to gato dhuile , from the alouda to chana puri , from mine bouillie to dal. Yes even Dal has got a beautiful story of its own in the life of many Mauritians.
Rice , Dal and mango pickles! I would just gulp that straight away. Brown lentils or Puy Lentils as commonly known is practically the one food staple that not only save the day. But also make everything so much better at the dinner table. Some of the most common crowd pleasers with Dal that makes Mauritius so unique are Rice, Dal and Chilli Pickles – plain and simple as that. Then come Rice, Dal and Rougaille Poisson Sale (salted fish in spicy tomato stew) , followed by Rice, Dal and Rougaille Saucisse ( sausage in rich tomato stew ). And I kept my favourite for the last bit, Rice , Dal and Potato Crisps, accompanied with some coconut chutney on the side. I mean this is to name a few Dal – Rice meal combinations and only to show how much they make life better when you run out of ideas.
However not always is it sunny side up in the kitchen. Sometimes it pours rain and we are left with not much to put on the table at dinner time. Especially if you have to feed a quite large number of people in the family. We are 5 at home and sometimes just like in every other Mauritian kitchen, it gets difficult to accommodate. I guess that is why Mum exist! My Mama rocks it as a superhero really whenever it used to be a little grey and cloudy in the kitchen. There wasn’t a day that she did not provide , whatever it is we have at home , on the dinner table. Thus unfolds the story of Dal Pitta from my kitchen.
My Maman would serve us these flour dumplings in lentil soup along with a leafy green or chutney at her level best the much possible. Dal Pitta is normally made in Yellow Split Peas. I grew up eating them in Brown/Puy Lentils and I find them equally wholesome and satisfying to be honest. The only time consuming factor would be you will have to knead the dough, afterwards roll out and cut into squares before dipping into the Lentil soup. If you want to avoid the lot of work that this all sound, then you can still buy ready made pasta shells. So easy and takes just minutes to get all soft and puffed in the soup.
Tradition makes it as such that Dal Pitta is best eaten with a Rougaille and Chutney. My most preferred combination is Dry Shrimp Spicy Rougaille/Chutney and Dal Pitta along some leafy green on the side – Moringa leaves (brede mouroung) sauteed in garlic and dry red chillies. I would totally rock the plate at the end and I have never licked my plate with so much enthusiasm just to show you how I can be weird sometimes. To the vegetarians, Coconut Chutney and Pickled Chillies as side to accompany the Dal Pitta is as heavenly as the non vegetarian option. Serve immediately to avoid the dumplings to soak all the Dal.
Mauritian Flour Dumplings in Lentil Soup – Dal Pita dans Lentil Noire
Preparation time : 30 mins
Cooking time : 30 mins
- 750g Regal Family Pack Lentils
- 3 cups all purpose white flour for dough
- 250g small to medium ripe tomatoes
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp clarified butter (ghee)
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2-3 cardamon pods
- 2-3 cloves
- pinch of turmeric powder
- curry leaves
- coriander leaves
- vegetable oil
- In a large bowl , sift all purpose white flour and add 2 tbsp of oil as well as a pinch of salt. 3 cups of white flour and 1 1/2 cup approx. of water and knead until all combined. Leave to rest for 15 mins so that the flour can relax and is easy to roll out.
- In the mean time heat a non stick heavy based pan, and add vegetable oil followed by onions , thyme , fenugreek seeds, cardamon pods , cloves , cinnamon stick and curry leaves. Sweat for 5 mins and then add the ripe tomatoes. I like to re boil mine and remove the skin and then cook with the tempering ingredients.
- Then tear up your Regal Family pack Lentils (pre boiled) and pour the all into the pan. Mix and incorporate thoroughly the Lentils with tomato sauce and add 2 cups of water. Stir in the clarified butter into the Lentil soup. Turn to lowest heat possible and leave to simmer.
- Roll out your dough and cut into squares. Make sure to dust the surface with flour as well as squares – dumplings from time to time to avoid them to stick to the surface.
- Drop the dumplings each at a time making sure they do not overlap each other into the Lentil soup. Stir from time to time and allow to cook /simmer for 15 mins. Repeat step until all dough is used up. Add more water if Dal get too thick.
- Sprinkle over coriander and parsley finely chopped.
- Serve hot with any leafy green vegetable . tomato salsa and coconut chutney.
Note: You can buy ready made available at supermarkets , Pasta Shells to use for the dumplings instead of making everything from scratch. I kept it traditional because that is how I grew up eating them.