Does cooking food without having it stick to the pan seem like an impossible task? We hear you! If you are like most people you heat up the pan for a few minutes, add oil then proceed cooking as usual. Herein lies the problem: your cooking vessel hasn't reached the ideal heat.
This holds true for both stainless and nonstick pans. So what's the secret to reaching the perfect temperature? It call boils down to the Leidenfrost point (named after the famous Leidenfrost effect), which requires a temperature of about 320F (depending on the pan) and optimizes browning, frying and prevents sticking.
To test whether your pan has reached the Leidenfrost point just sprinkle a few drops of water in it. If the water droplets roll around in the skillet you are golden. Just pour out the water droplets and proceed cooking as usual. You'll end up with perfectly cooked food that doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. It's a technique that works extremely well with sautéing and shallow frying. Here's the Leidenfrost effect in action:
Still curious about this cool trick? Here's a great visual guide which further explains the Leidenfrost effect and why it works (click on the image to enlarge):
Dal is one of those recipes that goes all the way back to the Indus Valley Civilisation. Unlike dishes such as biryani, brought to India by the Moghuls, it is one of those foods that has always been there. It is therefore a building block of Indian culture.