Preparation / Directions:
1. Sort, wash, and drain the split chana dal. Place the chana dal or yellow split peas in a bowl, cover with 3 cups of hot water and let soak for 5 hours. Drain.
2. Place the chana dal or split peas, 7 cups of water, turmeric, coriander, ginger root and a spoonful of the ghee or oil-butter mixture in a heavy 3-quart nonstick saucepan over high heat. Stirring frequently, bring to a full boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and boil gently for 1 1/2 hours. For pressure cooking, combine the ingredients in a 6-quart pressure cooker, cover and cook for 25 minutes under pressure. remove from the heat and allow the pressure to drop by itself. Off the heat, uncover and add the squash and garam masala. Stir and continue to cook gently for 30 minutes or until the dal is soft and fully cooked and the vegetables are butter-soft. Stir in the salt and lemon or lime juice.
3. Heat the remaining ghee or oil-butter mixture in a small saucepan over moderate to moderately high heat. When it is hot, add the cumin and red chiles. Fry until the cumin seeds turn brown. Add the asafetida powder and curry leaves, cook for just 1-2 seconds and then quickly pour the fried seasonings into the cooked dal. Cover immediately and allow the seasonings to soak into the hot dal for 1-2 minutes. Stir. Serve with 2 pieces of squash in each portion.
Source: Adapted from Yamuna Devi, Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1987), 799 pages.
"I first came across this dish at the famous Radha-Ramana Temple in Vrindavan, India," writes Yamuna Devi about this delicious soup. "The cooks there are excellent and the kitchen standards are high. The balance of textures and flavors impressed me that I immediately inquired about the recipe. The bottle gourd can be replaced by zucchini and if adjustments are made in cooking times, you'll get a good copy of the original. Bottle gourd, called louki or ghiya in Hindi, is a fine-grained, white-fleshed summer squash that does not become waterlogged or mushy when cooked to tenderness. It is not a common supermarket item, but is often available in Indian, Chinese, and Italian grocery stores. By the time the squash reaches the market, it usually requires peeling and seeding. The soft green outer skin can be removed with a potato peeler and the seedy inner core discarded. The firm flesh is then ready to be cut. Alternatively, any young, tender summer squash can be used -- green or yellow zucchini or summer pattypan