Sweet and spicy dal (C)

May 30, 2006 at 7:55 pm (Beans, F (0 stars, inedible), Indian, Website / blog)

This dal is based on a recipe on RecipeZaar chana dal with bell pepper, except I used yellow split peas instead of chana dal and bottle gourd (lauki) rather than the bell pepper.

250 g channa dal (gram dal)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 large red bell pepper
1 large tomato
1/2 onion
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
2-3 dried red chilies
1 bay leaf
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3-5 curry leave
  coriande (optional)
  parsley (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ginger paste
1/4 teaspoon garlic paste
  1. Soak chana dal in water for a few hours prior to use.
  2. Heat oil and add mustard seeds, bay leaf, cinammon, ginger and garlic pastes, and cloves.
  3. Add onions and let it heat till they turn translucent.
  4. Add chopped tomato and curry leaves and then the chana dal, making sure to add enough water to cover the dal as it boils.
  5. Cook on medium-high heat with a closed lid for 15-20min until the chana dal softens, while continuing to replenish the water now and again as it evaporates (make sure that you add boiling and not cold water).
  6. As soon as chana begins to soften, add the sliced capsicum (or diced bottlegourd, if that is your preference).
  7. Stir it in well with the chana and continue to cook until both the chana and capsicum (or bottlegourd), have softened sufficiently.
  8. Garnish with cilantro.

My Notes

Unfortunately, although the recipe recommended bottle gourd as a substitute, it forgot to mention that the gourd needs to be peeled. I had never cooked with it before so just assumed it was like a zucchini or summer squash…. It isn’t. The peel was really hard and tough, and I had to pick out all the pieces of bottle gourd before I could eat it. Other than that, the recipe seemed okay. Quite untraditional due to the cinnamon making it quite sweet tasting. Like the other dal I just made, the leftovers didn’t move very quickly. Again, I don’t think I’ll be making this recipe again.

Rating: C

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Cruciferous caraway cumin soup

May 30, 2006 at 7:54 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Cruciferous rich, My brain, Other, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, soup, Starches, Vegetable dishes)

This is the first recipe I ever made with rutabagas, and I really love it. The recipe is adapted from one in The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, by Peter Berley. His recipe calls for making a spice oil with the cumin and coriander and drizzling it on top. I’m sure that would be nice but I was too lazy so just added the spices to the soup. The slow sauteeing of the onions and toasted flour bring out the natural sweetness in the rutabaga, and the combination with caraway is a winner. I love caraway but never know what to put it on–problem solved!

  • 1 large onion, diced (about 1.5 or 2 cups?)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil (or use 1 olive oil, and 1 of butter, or just 1 of olive oil)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 large rutabaga, peeled and diced (about 1 pound)
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground caraway seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 1 Tbs. flour
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground cumin
  • 4 cups water (use 3 cups for a thicker puree, if you have a tall narrow pot)

1. In a heavy 3- to 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, saute the onion and rutabaga in the butter, olive oil and salt. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook gently for 20 minutes. The onions should brown and start to caramelize.
2. Stir in the caraway, garlic, cayenne, coriander, cumin, and flour. Raise the heat and saute for 5 more minutes.
3. Add enough water to cover the vegetables by 1 inch, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and cover, and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the rutabaga crushes easily against the side of the pan with the back of a spoon.
4. Use a stick blender to puree.

Yields about 5 cups–3 large or 5 small servings

My Notes

The first time I made this I followed Berley’s recipe exactly, except for the spice oil part (his recipe is no longer posted here–you’ll have to look it up in his cookbook.) I liked it a lot, but thought the recipe could use some tweaking.

I made this a second time, using only 1 Tbs. olive oil. I also had about 2-3 cups of zucchini insides leftover from my stuffed zucchini the other night, that I added and let cook down completely. The soup tasted pretty much the same from what I could tell, but was healthier. I want to keep working on this recipe to get a recipe with the same great flavor, but more nutritious and more filling. Eventually I’m positive it’s going to be a winner.

Okay, in a third attempt I used two leftover pattypan squashes. I was a bit short on rutabaga so I threw in the end of my celery root. I also still just used 1 Tbs. oil, but added more of the spices. The squashes were not noticeable, but the vegetal herbaceousness of the celery root interfered a bit with the sweet cabbage-y taste of the rutabaga. I wouldn’t add celery root again. The soup was still tasty though.

On my fourth try I used one rutabaga that was just over a pound, 1 Tbs. flour, 2 Tbs. olive oil, and 4 cups of water. It was just a bit spicy and really satisfying. It made 5 cups. I had it in a bowl that I had just had yogurt with cinnamon in, and I really liked the combo. Next time I might try adding cinnamon and a swirl of yogurt. Derek didn’t like it, although both his parents did. The nutritional stats still weren’t great–it’s pretty low calorie but 46% fat and only 6% protein.

Rating: B+

Stats Per Cup
Calories 106
Total Fat 5.8g
Saturated Fat 0.7g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 256mg
Carbohydrate 13.3g
Dietary Fiber 2.4g
Sugars 6.9g
Protein 1.8g
Vitamin A 1% Vitamin C 32%
Calcium 6% Iron 4%

Cauliflower Version

Jan 2007: Today I tried a Cauliflower soup with caraway from Sara Moulton’s cookbook “Cooks at Home”. Well, I kind of tried it. I didn’t have chicken stock (or even veg. stock), or rye bread, or chives. I didn’t feel like using 2 Tbs. olive oil and 4 Tbs. butter for 4 servings, and I forgot to add the fresh lemon and plum tomatoes that are supposed to go in at the end as a garnish. What I did do:

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium head cauliflower (I used about 1 2/3 pounds)
  • 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled (I left mine unpeeled)
  • 2 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 3 cups water (I would have used veg. broth if I had any)
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. coriander
  • lots of pepper
  • 3/4? tsp. salt (def. more than 1/2 tsp.)
  • a big shake of aleppo pepper
  • 2 Tbs. half and half

I broke off about 1.5 cups of florets, then sliced the remaining cauliflower.

I sauteed the onion slowly with the olive oil, caraway seeds, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a covered pan. When the onion softened and started to brown I added the sliced cauliflower and potato (sliced thinly). I sauteed a minute then added the water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes. I then used my stick blender to puree the cauliflower. At this point I tasted it and realized it tasted a lot like the rutabaga soup above. The texture was different–more grainy, and it wasn’t very rich tasting since I’d used so little oil, but the basic caraway / cruciferous taste was the dominant one. I had half and half around for some Cook’s Illustrated recipes so added 2 Tbs to see how that worked. I think I liked it better without the half and half, which sort of mellowed the Cauliflower flavor too much. It did make it more filling though, but next time I think I’ll just use more olive oil to start, or make a spice oil to drizzle over the top.

Sara Moulton said to pre-steam the handful of cauliflower florets she had you hold aside, but I was too lazy so I just threw them in the hot pureed soup and hoped they’d cook. They were still a bit crunchy, but in a good way. Probably not the most elegant version, but easy, and has the benefit of getting both the enzymes that are only present in raw crucifers and the ones that are only present in cooked ones!

In any case, it still tasted a lot like the rutabaga soup, but kind of bland, so I added the cumin, coriander, and some aleppo, then I liked it much better.

Rating: B

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Spicy Mung Bean Dal (C)

May 30, 2006 at 7:54 pm (Beans, F (0 stars, inedible), Indian, Other)

This recipe comes from Brooke Dojny’s cookbook Full of Beans. Moong dal is mung beans, dried and splilt.

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 jalepeno or serrano, minced
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1 medium-large tomato, seeded and chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup mun bean dal, rinsed and picked over (but not soaked)
3 cups vegetable broth
3 Tbs. grated coconut, unsweetened
1.5 tsp. garam masala
1/3 cup chopped cilantro

Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Saute the oinon over medium heat until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeno, coriander, and turmeric, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute

Add the chopped tomato, dal, broth, and coconut. Bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and the mixture is quite thick (about 30 minutes). (Can be made 3 days ahead and refrigerated. Reheat gently, adding a bit of water if necessary.)

Add the garalm masala and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro just before serving.

Right after I made this I thought it was pretty good, but the leftovers just sat there, I don’t know why. I really wanted a recipe for a traditional Indian dal, and this isn’t quite it. Despite the initial positive reaction, I don’t think I’ll make it again.

Rating: C

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Avocado and greens (B)

May 30, 2006 at 7:51 pm (B_minus (2.5 stars), Dark leafy greens, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Vegetable dishes)

When I’m lucky enough to have avocados I usually put them in a salad or on top of a bowl of beans. But I was out of lettuce and had no beans, and three avocados sitting on my counter were becoming precariously ripe.

So rather than saute my greens in olive oil like I normally would, I steamed some chard and tat soi together, then seasoned them with a little yeast and soy sauce, cilantro and mashed avocado. The combination was really nice. The creaminess of the avocado toned down the harshness of the chard, and the light green on the dark green was very beautiful. It needs some work, but I think it’s a great starting point for an interesting dish.

Rating: B

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