Red lentil and chana dal

March 4, 2021 at 10:05 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, From a friend, Indian)

My sister told me recently that she tried one of the chana dal recipes on this blog and she wasn’t too impressed. She said it was okay, but it just wasn’t right somehow. So when a friend of mine (Satnam Singh) posted his own red lentil and chana dahl recipe on Facebook, we decided to give it a try. Satnam said the recipe is based on one this his mom (Dalip Kaur) makes, but he modified it a bit based on the Tadka dal recipe in the Bombay Brasserie cookbook. We made it (albeit with much less chili powder than called for) and enjoyed it. Alma, predictably, wouldn’t touch it.

Satnam gave me permission to share it on my blog. Below I’ve modified his recipe to use typical American spelling and terms. 

Lentils 

  • 300g masoor dal (peeled and split red lentils)
  • 150g chana dal (split gram)
  • 3 tsp. turmeric 
  • 2 tsp. chili powder (Indian, not Mexican!)
  • 2 ½ tsp. fine salt
  • 8.5 cups water
  • fresh cilantro to garnish
  • Frozen curry leaves (optional)

Tempering 

  • 4 Tbsp. oil
  • 4 large onions (about 1.2 kg), chopped 
  • 2 tsp. whole cumin seeds 
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed or chopped
  • 1 cm ginger, chopped
  • 4 green chilis, seeded and chopped (optional, we used 2 jalapenos without seeds)
  • 4 tsp. Kashmiri chili powder (we couldn’t find any Kashmiri chili powder, plus the dal was spicy enough for us, so we just omitted this!)
  • 4 tomatoes, coarsely chopped or a 400g can of chopped tomatoes (total weight should be 400g, not drained weight)

 Instructions: 

  1. Mix masoor dal, chana dal, turmeric, chili powder, salt, and water in a large (4 to 5 quart) pot. Bring to a boil. This takes about 10 minutes on a large burner.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low (3 of 9 on my stove) with lid slightly ajar. Simmer vigorously until the liquid is absorbed and the chana dal is breaking down. Stir occasionally to avoid the dal sticking to the bottom of the pot. This takes approximately 50 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, chop your garlic, ginger, chili peppers, and onion.
  4. Heat the oil in a frying pan. When hot add the cumin seeds and fry until they crackle.  Add garlic and continue frying, stirring occasionally until the aroma of cooked garlic is evident. 
  5. Add the onion and continue frying on medium until the onion soft, very lightly browned around the edges, and starting to become sweet (but not caramelized).
  6. Stir in the green chillies, ginger and chilli powder and continue frying for 1.5 minutes. 
  7. Stir in the tomatoes. 
  8. Pour tempering over lentils and stir. 
  9. Mix in the cilantro leaves. Garnish with a few dried red chilies if you’re trying to impress your date.

Note: Satnam says he doesn’t bother to rinse the dal—he just checks it for stones. He also doesn’t bother to skim the foam off the top when it comes to a boil. He said you can omit the tomatoes if you want—his Mom doesn’t use them. The tomatoes are inspired by the Tadka Dal recipe from the Bombay Brasserie cookbook (a cookbook written by the the chef at a fancy Indian restaurant in London). He said they add raw chopped fresh tomatoes at the end, but lightly blended canned tomatoes are a fine substitute. Satnam advises that if you want to freeze the dal, not to add the tempering. Instead, make and add the tempering for each batch of lentils when they are needed.

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Cauliflower Tikka Masala

April 27, 2020 at 11:05 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Cruciferous rich, Indian, Instant Pot, Quick weeknight recipe, Website / blog)

I wanted to make an Indian cauliflower dish, but I wasn’t in the mood for my usual dry curry, plus Alma hasn’t liked it the last couple of times I made it. I decided to make this recipe from veganricha.com instead, since you roasted the cauliflower in the oven and make the sauce separately in the Instant Pot. I figured Alma could eat the cauliflower plain if she wanted.

So I made the sauce, except I used whole tomatoes instead of chopped, and I didn’t have any fresh cilantro or dried fenugreek leaves. Also, I didn’t have vegan yogurt or cream so I used regular dairy products. Maybe I needed more cream though because my sauce came out much brighter red and not as creamy-looking as it does in the picture? In any case the sauce was good. It tasted Indian, but subtly—much brighter, simpler flavors and much less spiced or rich than the food I get in Indian recipes. Both Derek and I liked it, but I put in too much chili and it was too spicy for Alma.

I didn’t simmer the cauliflower with the sauce, just served them separately. I also roasted some chickpeas along with the cauliflower, and I cut up some seitan and served it on the side with basmati rice. Alma ate the lightly spiced roasted cauliflower and chickpeas with plain seitan (but no rice), and Derek and I mixed the seitan and cauliflower together with the basmati rice and the tikka sauce. Yum. I’d definitely make this again, but next time I will leave out the chili and see if Alma will eat it.

If you make the sauce ahead of time (can you freeze it?) then this would be a quick weeknight dinner.

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Instant Pot Chana Masala

February 26, 2020 at 10:58 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Derek's faves, Indian, Instant Pot, Website / blog)

Yes, I am on an Instant Pot kick. I bought the pot but still don’t use it for all that much other than cooking beans and (occasionally) breakfast porridge. I really would love to find more Instant Pot recipes that the whole family loves. So I printed out a bunch of recipes and we’ve been working our way through them.

This recipe for Instant Pot Chana Masala is from the blog Spice Cravings. It’s interesting in that it has you cook the dry (but pre-soaked!) chickpeas in just a little water along with the onions, tomatoes, and spices that becomes the gravy. I would have thought you’d need more liquid to cook the beans, and it would come out too soupy. But it worked.

I followed the recipe pretty closely, but I wasn’t sure what crushed ginger is. I used minced ginger. I only used 1 seeded green chili, so Alma would eat it. I used the paprika option instead of the Kashmiri red chili powder. I used jarred tomatoes instead of fresh, and maybe 4 or 5 since they were quite small. I didn’t have any fennel so I left that out. (It’s optional in any case.) Finally, I forgot to add the roasted cumin powder at the end. I was also surprised the author says to add the garam masala at the beginning of the cooking. All my other Indian recipes always have you add it at the very end? I decided to be conservative and added it after I opened the instant pot.

Derek and I both really liked this recipe. Derek said it tasted better than most restaurant Chana Masalas. He said it needed spice though, and added cayenne to his bowl.

Alma refused to try the dish. She ate plain chickpeas instead.

It only calls for 1 cup of chickpeas. Next time I’d definitely double the recipe. Derek and I were fighting over the leftovers.

(I’m giving this the same rating as the Tortilla Soup recipe I just blogged, but we actually liked it quite a bit more. But it seems wrong to give it 4 stars after just trying it once.)

Update Jan 17, 2022: I made this recipe again but I doubled it. It didn’t come out perfect but Derek still said he loved it. I quick-soaked the beans and cooked them under pressure for I think 50 minutes but then I forgot to release the pressure after 10 to 15 minutes of natural release, and the chickpeas ended up extremely soft. There was also a huge amount of sauce. (I think I doubled the 2.5 cups of water, but next time I will try just using 4 cups total? Or maybe I will use totally dry/unsoaked chickpeas with the full 5 cups of water and 60 minutes cooking time and see how that works? Doubling it made quite a lot. I wonder if I can freeze it. If not then maybe I should just make 1.5x next time.

I put the garam masala in early and also added ground fennel, but still didn’t have any fenugreek and I forgot the paprika this time, but the dish was plenty flavorful.

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Instant Pot Saag Aloo with sweet potatoes and chard

February 13, 2020 at 10:26 pm (C (1 star, edible), Dark leafy greens, Indian, Instant Pot, Root vegetables, Website / blog)

I have been craving Indian food, and so I printed out a bunch of new Indian Instant Pot recipes to test. I gave Derek the stack of recipes and he picked this Vegan Richa recipe for Instant Pot Saag Aloo, which was convenient because I happened to have a lot of chard and sweet potatoes. Also, we really like Vegan Richa’s Instant Pot lasagne soup, so I was hoping for another great dish.

Unfortunately, it was not a success. Alma (at age five) took one bite and then wouldn’t touch it, and even Derek only ate a few spoonfuls. It ended up very watery, not sure why. Maybe I mis-measured the water? But even ignoring the wateriness, nobody liked the flavors. Too much cinnamon maybe? Derek said it was just too sweet tasting. Did I screw it up, or is it just not for us?

To try to improve the texture, I pureed it all together and then served it with pan-fried paneer for breakfast this morning. That was okay, but we still didn’t like the sweet potato / chard / cinnamon combination very much.

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Curried cabbage, potatoes, and peas

July 2, 2016 at 8:51 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Indian, Monthly menu plan, Other, Starches)

This is a relatively straightforward recipe from the cookbook “660 Curries”. Both Derek and I really enjoyed it. It tasted authentically Indian, without being overwhelmingly rich.  Read the rest of this entry »

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My mom’s toddler-approved chana dal

April 14, 2016 at 11:13 am (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, breakfast, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Indian, Mom’s recipes, Spring recipes, Winter recipes) ()

My mom visited us in January and made us her favorite chana dal recipe for dinner one night. It was a hit, but we ate it all up immediately. So before she left she made us a second, doubled batch and froze it. We defrosted it a few weeks later and again it was a hit with everyone, including my 1-year-old. Since then I’ve been making a quadrupled batch of chana dal every two weeks. We eat it for dinner, freeze some of it, and eat the rest for breakfast a few days later. Then we defrost the frozen portion and have it for a dinner and a breakfast the following week. Sometimes we serve it with yogurt, but often we don’t. My now 14-month-old always eats it happily. When we have it for breakfast, I try to serve it with a piece of vitamin C rich fruit, often a grapefruit, an orange or clementine, or a kiwi. The only problem with the recipe is that it doesn’t have any vegetables in it. I’m curious to try adding some vegetables — maybe a bit of spinach or carrots? In the meantime, if I have leftover roasted or curried cauliflower, I will serve that as a side dish.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Cauliflower in a roasted onion-chile sauce

November 16, 2015 at 9:26 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Cruciferous rich, Indian, Raghavan Iyer, Uncategorized)

Derek picked this recipe out of our new Indian cookbook: 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer. He thought it would make an easy weeknight recipe. I liked the recipe, but it turns out it’s not so quick. Read the rest of this entry »

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What we’ve been cooking this week

May 17, 2015 at 8:01 pm (Beans, Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, East and SE Asia, Georgeanne Brennan, Indian, Isa C. Moskowitz, Menus, Middle East / N. Africa, Nancie McDermott, Peter Berley, Root vegetables, Tofu, Vegetable dishes)

I say what we’ve been cooking instead of what I’ve been cooking, because with the new baby, Derek has been doing about as much cooking as I have, if not more. In the first few months he was mostly just making old standbys, but in the last week or two we’ve finally started to branch out and try some new recipes. I don’t have time to write full blog posts about each one, so I’ll write a short blurb here for each. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mung and red lentil dal

December 29, 2013 at 11:30 am (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Derek's faves, Indian, Website / blog)

I wanted to make mung dal yesterday, but I didn’t have any toovar dal and didn’t feel like making 100% mung dal, and so I went looking for a recipe that uses mung and massoor dal (hulled and split red lentils). I found this recipe for red lentil and moong dal on the Lisa’s Kitchen blog, which is a blog mostly devoted to vegetarian Indian recipe. The recipe is pretty similar to my mung and toovar dal recipe, as you can see below. The main differences are that the mung & masoor recipe calls for more turmeric and mustard seeds, and instead of garlic, shallot, and curry leaves, the sauce is finished with tomatoes, amchoor powder, and garam masala. But actually I forgot to add the garam masala! Other than that I followed the recipe pretty closely, except that I made 1.5x the recipe and kept the oil amount at 2 tablespoons. It was still plenty rich. I also used 5 canned whole tomatoes rather than 3 fresh. We ate the dal for dinner with yogurt. It was supposed to serve six people (since I made 1.5x the original recipe which served four), but the two of us finished off almost the entire pot.  We were hungry and it was very tasty. I’m definitely going to bookmark Lisa’s Kitchen blog to explore in the future. Read the rest of this entry »

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Saag Paneer or Saag Tofu

September 26, 2013 at 11:23 am (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Cook's Illustrated, Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, Indian, Other, Website / blog)

Derek loves spinach, and he loves Indian food, and he loves rich, decadent food.  Hence, he is always excited about having saag paneer for dinner.  We had a version at a friend’s house last year that used tofu instead of paneer. I asked him for the recipe and he sent me this one from Atul Kochhar’s cookbook “Simple Indian: The Fresh Taste of India’s New Cuisine.”  We’ve made it several times now, sometimes with paneer, sometimes with tofu, and sometimes with a mix. I’ve modified the instructions below based on some of the changes we’ve made. Read the rest of this entry »

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What I’ve been cooking: Spring 2013

May 12, 2013 at 2:17 pm (Alice Medrich, Beans, Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Indian, Italian, Menus, Quick weeknight recipe, soup, Website / blog)

I can’t believe it, but I haven’t posted a proper recipe to this blog since Spring 2013.  At this point my list of recipes to blog about has grown so long that I have despaired of ever posting them all.  So instead I decided to just do one quick smorgasbord post. Read the rest of this entry »

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Homemade paneer

December 27, 2012 at 5:29 pm (Cook's Illustrated, Indian, Necessarily nonvegan, unrated)

I’ve tried making paneer before using lemon juice as the curdling agent, and both times my cheese turned out rather crumbly and a bit gritty.  (But maybe I just didn’t drain it under a weight long enough.)  An Indian friend said I should try making it with buttermilk instead.  Then in September Cook’s Illustrated published a paneer recipe that calls for buttermilk, and I finally got around to trying it over the break. Read the rest of this entry »

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Curried potatoes and peas with tempeh

March 7, 2012 at 11:58 pm (101 cookbooks, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Derek's faves, Indian, Spring recipes, Starches, Tempeh, Winter recipes)

I bought some tempeh but didn’t feel like making one of my tempeh standbys.  I wanted to try a new tempeh recipe.  I’d never tried including tempeh in an Indian recipe before, so I thought I’d give it a try.  I found a recipe for tempeh curry on the 101cookbooks site.  It’s a pretty basic recipe.  You make a simple curry sauce out of a base of butter, onions, tomatoes and spices, then add in the tempeh and some steamed potatoes, simmer until tender, and garnish with cilantro. Read the rest of this entry »

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Savory Indian chickpea pudding

December 26, 2011 at 9:04 pm (Beans, C (1 star, edible), Indian, Madhur Jaffrey)

Even after my experiments with Socca I still had some chickpea flour left, so I decided to try this recipe from Maddhur Jaffrey’s World of the East.  She calls it a savory chickpea flour “quiche,” but then goes on to say that it resembles a quiche only in that it’s like a set custard that can be cut and served in sections.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Red lentil soup with lemon and spinach

December 22, 2011 at 12:14 pm (101 cookbooks, Beans, Beans and greens, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Dark leafy greens, Deborah Madison, Fall recipes, Indian, Peter Berley, soup, Spring recipes, Winter recipes)

I already have two go-to red lentil soup recipes (Turkish and curried), but somehow I wasn’t in the mood for either of them, and I decided to try a new recipe instead. This recipe is from 101cookbooks, and based on a recipe from Deborah Madison. I followed the recipe closely except that instead of a bunch of spinach I used a bag of mixed greens (baby spinach, arugula, and baby chard). I didn’t chop the leaves, which was probably a mistake as they ended up a bit stringy. I didn’t serve the soup with brown rice, and we didn’t miss it.  We did try it with yogurt, and it seemed good both with and without the yogurt.

I don’t know why the recipe calls for yellow mustard seeds instead of the black ones that most Indian recipes call for.  And they’re not popped in hot oil.  I’ve actually never cooked with whole yellow mustard seeds before.  I had to go out and buy some!

I ended up using the juice of two lemons, which made the soup quite lemony.  The first day it was perhaps a bit too much lemon, but as leftovers it was fine — the lemon seemed to mellow down.

This soup is more Indian tasting than my other two red lentil soup recipes.  Derek said it tasted similar to other dals I’ve made in the past, but I thought all the lemon juice made it taste a bit unusual.  This recipe has a lot of turmeric and salt!  I used kosher salt but still I found the soup a tad too salty for my taste.  Derek was happy though.  He ate the soup for breakfast several days in a row.

I’ll definitely throw this recipe into my red lentil soup rotation.

Rating: B
Derek: B+

Update Feb 2013:  I recently tried a red lentil and coconut milk soup from Deborah Madison.   The recipe is actually titled “fragrant red lentils with basmati rice and romanesco.” In addition to the coconut milk, the lentils are seasoned with ginger, turmeric, jalapeños  onions, cayenne, bay leaf, and black mustard seeds.  The recipe also calls for romanesco, but I couldn’t find any so I used cauliflower  The cauliflower florets are sautéed with the same basic seasonings as the lentils, then everything is combined and garnished with cilantro and yogurt.  The recipe was fine, but it was more work than other red lentil recipes I’ve made, without being particularly exciting.  I won’t make it again.

Lemon lentil soup with spinach

Tonight (Feb 26, 2022), Derek made a similar recipe for dinner, this time from Peter Berley’s cookbook Fresh Food Fast. Here’s a comparison, with the 101 cookbooks / Madison recipe in parentheses.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups red or brown lentils, rinsed (1.5 cups / 300g split red lentils, rinsed well)
  • 8 large garlic cloves (3/4 large onion, about 1.5 cups diced)
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil (3 Tbs. butter)
  • 1 cup canned chopped tomatoes with their juice (none)
  • 1.25 – 1.75 tsp. fine salt (salt to taste)
  • 4 slices peeled fresh ginger, each about the size of a quarter  + 1 sprig fresh rosemary + 1 bay leaf (none of these, but 3/4 Tbs. turmeric, 1.5 tsp. ground cumin, 1 heaping tsp. yellow mustard seeds, and 3/4 cup chopped cilantro)
  • 10 ounces washed baby spinach (3/4 large bunch of spinach leaves, chopped)
  • 2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of 2! lemons)

My notes:

I put in a whole long sprig of rosemary. Maybe that’s not what was intended because the soup tasted strongly of rosemary. It was also intensely lemony I thought. Maybe that’s why its name starts with lemon not lentil! Alma wasn’t a big fan (she only had a few bites), but Derek loved it. We served it with Peter Berley’s chickpea scallions pancakes.

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Mattar Tofu

September 10, 2011 at 10:20 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Indian, Ron Pickarski, Spring recipes, Tofu, Winter recipes)

This recipe from Friendly Foods (by Brother Ron Pickarski) was originally titled “Paneer Tofu”, but it’s really a vegan version of Mattar Paneer (peas and paneer in a creamy tomato sauce), which uses tofu instead of paneer cheese. Read the rest of this entry »

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Indian rice pudding

August 23, 2011 at 9:39 pm (C (1 star, edible), Dessert, Indian, Mexican & S. American, Pudding)

I was making an Indian dinner for company, and Derek decided that he needed to make rice pudding for dessert.  He used this recipe from Alton Brown. The recipe has received excellent reviews.  I’ve never had a rice pudding I’ve loved, so I had pretty low expectations.  But I enjoyed it.  The raisins and pistachios were tasty, and I liked the freshly ground cardamom.  (I’d probably add even more if we ever make rice pudding again.)  That said, given all the wonderful desserts in the world, I don’t think this one is worth the calories. Derek had higher expectations than me, and ended up a bit disappointed.  He thought there was too much rice and in general just too much “stuff.” Read the rest of this entry »

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No-onion curry sauce with cauliflower, chickpeas, and seitan

July 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm (Beans, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Cruciferous rich, Indian, Other, Sauce/dressing, Seitan)

This is another recipe that I made last year when I was visiting my friend Sarah in Israel.  The original recipe is from the cookbook The Indian Vegetarian by Neelam Batra. Although I have nothing against onions, I like the idea that I can make a delicious, authentic curry sauce even if I’m all out of onions. Batra says that no-onion curry sauce needs extra tomatoes, yogurt, and spices.  Note that the sauce as written is quite thin.  Batra says it makes a lovely base for a vegetable soup, or you can add 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes to make it thicker. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spinach sauce with garlic and ginger

June 28, 2011 at 6:51 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, Indian, Other)

I made this recipe when I visited my friend Sarah in Israel last summer, except that we made it with chard not spinach.  I quite liked it, and was curious how it would be different with spinach.  Finally, almost a year later, I got a chance to make it again.  The recipe is from the cookbook The Indian Vegetarian by Neelam Batra.  The head note says it complements all types of Indian menus and also works wonders on cooked pasta, vegetables, and tofu. Read the rest of this entry »

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South Indian mixed-vegetable korma

June 28, 2011 at 6:37 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Cruciferous rich, Indian, Vegetable dishes)

I made this recipe with Spoons when I visited him in Brooklyn last fall, and liked it enough that I emailed myself the recipe.  Finally last week I got around to making it myself.  It’s from Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbook “From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Bengalese kamut and coconut stuffing

June 12, 2011 at 8:31 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Derek's faves, Grains, Indian, Rebecca Wood)

This post was originally entitled Grilled bitter melon stuffed with kamut and coconut.  The bitter melon was a disaster, but the Indian-flavored stuffing was quite tasty, and I finally got around to making it again, over five years later.  Rebecca Wood says the flavorings are a mix of New Mexican and Bengalese, but I get more of an Indian vibe than a New Mexican one.  I served this as a side dish with roasted cauliflower, but it would also be good as a stuffing for other veggies:  cabbage leaves, small pumpkins, summer squash…

Read the rest of this entry »

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Chana dal

August 1, 2010 at 3:45 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Indian, Other)

I wanted to make sambar for dinner tonight, but when I went to rinse my toor dal, I discovered that it was full of bugs.  I thought about trying to sub in some other kind of dal, but I only had masoor dal and chana dal, and I wasn’t sure whether sambar would taste right with either type of dal.  Instead, I decided to make a new recipe for dal.  I looked in my Madhur Jaffrey World of the East cookbook, and she had one recipe for chana dal with cucumbers.  But then I looked online and I was won over by the picture of the chana dal on the dinnerdiary.org blog (her photo is shown at right).  The dal just looked so creamy and delicious, plus the author says that she’s “struggled at times to produce an Indian dish that’s rounded and deep in flavour, which this definitely was.”  Sounded perfect!  Read the rest of this entry »

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Soupy salon dal

July 10, 2010 at 9:38 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Derek's faves, Indian, Website / blog)

I love dal in restaurants but I’ve never really found a recipe for it that I want to make over and over.  So when I saw a recipe in Salon for Dal Chawal, based on a recipe from a home cook, I decided to try it.  Apparently dal chawal is dal mixed with rice.  But I decided to skip the rice (Derek isn’t a fan of white rice) and just make the dal.  But then I went to make the recipe and I realized that it’s kind of crazy.  It calls for 1/2 cup of dal and 5 Tbs. of vegetable oil!  I just couldn’t do it.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Dosas

March 23, 2009 at 3:45 pm (Beans, Indian, unrated, Website / blog)

I’ve been told that to make authentic dosas requires a special, ultra-powerful blender.  Apparently a standard American blender just can’t grind the soaked rice and dal to a fine enough consistency.  That’s why I was excited when I found this recipe for dosas made with real dal but rice flour instead of soaked and blended rice.  No special blender needed, apparently.

The first time I tried the recipe I placed my stainless steel bowl full of dosa batter inside a cast iron pot, covered it loosely, and set the pot next to the radiator (which was on low). I also left the batter a bit longer than the 12 hours the recipe calls for–maybe 14 hours?  When I got up in the morning the dosa batter was *huge* and really frothy and poofy, plus it smelled really sour–some might say foul. Actually, the whole apartment smelled like the sour batter.  I was worried that it was full of bacteria, so I ended up tossing it. The second time I tried the recipe, I just left the bowl on the counter for 12 hours exactly.  The batter still had that strange smell that it had last time, but this time it was closer to “odd” smelling than “foul”.  It wasn’t all foamy and frothy, and so I decided it was fine.

For cooking the dosas, I tried Kittee’s trick of rubbing the skillet with a cut onion, and I was kind of able to spread my dosas with the back of the spoon, but the dosas ended up too thick.  Besides being too thick, they looked reasonably authentic.  The dosas tasted the same as the batter smelled–slightly tangy and strange.  It didn’t really bother me, but I wouldn’t say I liked the odd taste.  Derek didn’t care for them at all.  My friend Katrina said she thought they were  pretty good.  I’d like to figure out if the smell was coming from the fenugreek seed or the urad dal.  I’m going to make fenugreek tea to find out what it tastes like.

We tried cooking up the dosas and letting them sit overnight, then taking them for lunch the next day.  Although they seemed crisp at first when I bit into one I discovered that they were extremely tough (not crisp at all).  They weren’t really edible that day.  However, I left one dosa sitting out for about 3 days, and eventually it did get really crisp. The strange smell had faded completely and it tasted like some kind of chip.  I liked it.

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Basic cucumber raita

January 5, 2009 at 6:10 am (Epicurious, Indian, Sauce/dressing, Summer recipes, unrated)

On my sister’s final night in Saarbruecken I made dosas and an Indian dish with okra and onions.  Hanaleah claimed not to like dosas (too spicy) or okra, but she really liked both my dishes.  To go along with the dosas, Hanaleah decided to make raita.  She started out with this Epicurious recipe for traditional cucumber raita, substituted red onions for the scallions, and added lemon juice and salt.  Her raita was excellent, and although the recipe is quite simple, I wanted to remember it, so decided to post it here.

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup finely chopped cucumber (unpeeled)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped red onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1? Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4? tsp. salt

Here’s a raita recipe from the cookbook “Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking” by Julie Sahni:

  • 1.5 cups plain yogurt, whisked til smooth
  • 1 cup peeled, grated cucumber
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground roasted cumin for garnish
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika for garnish
  • cilantro or mint for garnish

She says it can be made 5-6 hours in advance, and makes 4 servings.

I went over to my friend Anusha’s for dinner and she made a really tasty raita. It didn’t have cucumber in it, but it had lots of onions. She gave me her recipe:

  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1 pinch black salt
  • 1-3 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1.5 cups yogurt [depends on how thick you want it to be]
  • 1/2 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
It seems odd that an Indian recipe calls for dried parsley.  I wonder if Anusha meant coriander?  I tried making this using three quite small onions, and it was very tasty but much too salty for me.  I had to add a lot more yogurt and more lemon juice.  But I really love the raw onions in the raita.  I’ll definitely make it again.

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Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran

December 10, 2008 at 5:51 pm (Beans, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Cruciferous rich, Indian, Quick weeknight recipe, Website / blog)

I saw this recipe over at FatFree Vegan Kitchen, and after reading Susan’s glowing praise of panch phoran I immediately wanted to try it.   Amazingly, I had all five spices in my pantry: fenugreek, mustard, kalonji (nigella), fennel, and cumin. I made the panch phoran mixture myself.  The only change I made to the recipe was adding some oil to the dish (in guilty opposition to the fat free philosophy).

The red lentils in the dish cause the dish to have a thick, stewlike consistency, but the stew was punctuated by big chunks of cauliflower.   I thought the flavor was fine, but more subtle than I had expected–I certainly did not experience the near-euphoria described on the FatFree Vegan blog. Derek, however, liked the recipe more than me, and thought the seasoning was quite strong.

This recipe is simple and nutritious, and very easy to make, so even though I didn’t love it I’ll probably try it again.

Rating: B
Derek: B

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Basic mung dal

June 5, 2008 at 4:57 pm (Beans, Indian, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, unrated)

This is a simpler version of the mung and toovar dal from the cookbook From Curries to Kabobs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail by Madhur Jaffrey.

Serves 4

  • 1 cups hulled and split mung dal
  • 3.5 – 4 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp. Indian chili pepper (or sub in cayenne pepper if you don’t have any)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 3/4 Tbs. peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 Tbs. garlic, crushed to a pulp (about 3 cloves)
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 1/8 tsp. kosher salt (scant tsp. fine sea salt)
  • 2 Tbs. oil
  • 1 tsp. whole brown mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. chili flakes
  1. Wash the dal, then add to a 2-quart lidded pot, along with 3.5 cups of water. If you’re not going to eat the dal immediately, use 4 cups of water as it thickens as it sits. Bring to a boil. Do not let them boil over. Skim off the scum that rises to the surface with a slotted spoon. Stir.
  2. Add the Indian chili powder, turmeric, ginger, garlic, shallot, and salt. Stir. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover with the lid, and simmer gently for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the dal is tender.
  3. Pour the oil into a small frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the mustard seeds and red chilies. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop, a matter of seconds, empty the contents of the frying pan, oil and spices, into the pan containing the dal. Cover immediately with the lid to trap the aromas. Stir gently before serving.

My notes

I wanted to make Madhur Jaffrey’s mung and toovar dal but was out of toovar dal, as well as other necessary ingredients. This is my simplified, don’t-go-to-the-store version. If you want to veer back to the original, use 1/2 toovar dal, add in asoefetida, fresh green chilies, cilantro, and fresh curry leaves, and use whole dried red chilies instead of chili flakes, and ghee instead of oil.

I fried my spices in avocado oil, because that was what I had. I’m not sure whether it added a specific flavor, but the final dish was delicious. It was noticeably spicy, but I couldn’t stop eating it. I would eat this with my dosa recipe, or naan, or Ethiopian injera, cauliflower curry, or any other vegetable curry dish. Add some rice and/or raita and you’d have a healthy, tasty, vegetarian Indian feast.

This is a large recipe.  It makes around 3.5 – 4 cups I think.  I bet it would freeze well, but I haven’t tried it.

If you’ve never eaten mung dal, there’s a great picture of the different types of lentils at www.foodsubs.com. The image of the mung dal is quite accurate.

Update 1/11/2009: I made this recipe again, except I used about 1/3 mung dal and 2/3 toovar dal, and I only used 1 Tbs. of oil. I didn’t like it nearly as much as I did the first time. It was okay, but didn’t quite taste like something you’d get at an Indian restaurant. Eaten with yogurt it was fine, but was a little too stinky on its own. For this version:

Rating: B-
Derek: B-

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Carrot Halvah

January 12, 2008 at 10:56 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Derek's faves, Dessert, Indian, Other, Other)

I’ve mentioned previously how much I love sesame seed halvah, and although it is bears only a hazy relationship to the middle eastern sesame dessert, I really like Indian-style carrot halwah as well. Derek adores the carrot halwa at Vatan in NYC, and we’ve tried a number of recipes without much success at replicating it. However, when I saw this recipe in my new cookbook Ajanta, I was certain it was authentic. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kela Raita

January 12, 2008 at 7:40 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Indian, Other, Quick weeknight recipe, Sauce/dressing)

Kela means banana (in some Indian language), and although I’ve never heard of it before or had it at a restaurant, apparently banana raita is quite common; at least, I found lots of similar recipe when searching for it on google. This recipe is from the cookbook Ajanta, by Lachu Moorjani. A few friends of mine love the author’s restaurant Ajanta in Northern California, and bought me and Derek his cookbook as a present, along with a lovely box of Indian spices. When I first unwrapped the spice box I was a little concerned that I already had all the spices, but it turns out it contains lots of ones I don’t have: black cumin seeds, black rock salt, dried fenugreek leaves, nigella seeds, dried pomegranate seeds, white poppy seeds… And all the spices are very fresh. What a lovely gift! I looked through the cookbook and picked a few recipes to try first, and this recipe for banana raita instantly caught my eye. It sounded unusual, but easy to make and very tasty.

  • 1 Tbs. oil
  • 2 tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 1 dry red chilies, cut into pieces no larger than 1/4 inch
  • 1 banana, peeled and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch dice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1 tsp. ground toasted cumin

Heat the oil in a 1 to 2 quart saucepan. When it’s hot, add the mustard seeds and chilies. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop turn off the heat (should only take about 5 to 10 seconds). Mix in the banana, salt, paprika, and yogurt. Before serving, sprinkle with the cumin. Serve cold.

My notes: I used lowfat yogurt (1.5% fat) and it came out delicious. I also missed the bit about serving it cold, and served it right off the stove: not hot but certainly not cold. Finally, I missed the instructions to dice the banana, and just sliced it, but I liked the big slices. In fact, both Derek and I really liked this raita. The sweet banana and creamy yogurt were a welcome contrast to all the spicy Indian food we were eating, and the black mustard seeds, paprika and cumin give the raita tons of flavor. It was perhaps just a tad salty for my taste, so next time I might use a sparing 1/2 tsp., and if possible I’d cut down the oil since my other Indian dishes usually use a lot of oil. Other than that I wouldn’t change a thing, and I’ll definitely include this recipe in my next Indian extravaganza. It’s also a great recipe for using up very ripe bananas.

Rating: B+
Derek: B

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Samosa Potatoes

December 27, 2006 at 6:36 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Derek's faves, Indian, Madhur Jaffrey, Starches)

I really like samosas, but I don’t have the patience for rolling dough and deep frying. So I just make the potato filling and serve it as a side dish, or as a filling for dosas. This recipe, from Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East cookbook, tastes very authentic to me–when I taste these I don’t think Indian potatoes I think samosa potatoes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rice Flour Dosas with Onions and Black Mustard Seeds

December 27, 2006 at 6:19 pm (A (4 stars, love), Derek's faves, Indian, Madhur Jaffrey, Quick weeknight recipe, Starches)

This recipe is not authentic as it is made with pre-ground rice flour, and no lentils, but it is fast and super tasty. It’s based on a recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East cookbook.

Makes eight 6- to 7-inch pancakes, each using 1/3 cup of batter.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rice flour (also called rice powder)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (or just quarter it)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt (fine salt?)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (the sourer the better)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbs. veg oil (plus more for cooking)
  • 3/4 to 1 tsp. coarsely crushed or very coarsely ground black pepper
  1. Put the onion in the bowl of a food processor and chop finely. Add the white flour, rice flour, cayenne, coconut, salt, yogurt, and water. Blend until smooth and pour into a bowl.
  2. Heat 1 Tbs. of oil in a very small skillet or pot over a medium flame. When hot, put in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop (almost immediately), pour the seeds and oil over the batter. Add the black pepper and mix thoroughly.
  3. The instructions for cooking the dosas is quite complicated and I’m not going to copy it here since I haven’t yet mastered the instructions anyhow. Jaffrey says to use a 7- to 8-inch nonstick pan, but I use my 12-inch pan since that’s the only nonstick one I have. She also says to use a spoon to spread the batter but I’m not skilled enough to make that work. Instead, I thin down my batter with water, and then just tilt the pan to get the batter to cover the bottom, as you do when making crepes. Note that you want the skillet to be hot, lightly oiled, and the dosa to be as thin as possible. Make sure to cover your skillet after placing 1/3 cup of batter in the pan, and cook until the dosas is no longer white in the center. Flip and leave uncovered when cooking the second side.
  4. To make these ahead of time you can wrap them in tin foil then reheat them later in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes (I haven’t tried this yet).

My Notes

I often add a bit more water to this recipe to thin the batter down and make it easier to spread in the pan, maybe 1 cup?  The thickness of your yogurt will affect how much water you need.  Since I add more water I usually get out more dosas, or bigger dosas, than the headnotes indicate.  Last time I made them I was able to make a total of nine 8- to 9-inch dosas in my 12-inch skillet.

Note that it’s essential to blend the batter in the food processor or blender to achieve the proper consistency. (A stick blender will work as well, but definitely don’t skip the blending step, even if you dice your onions very fine.) These dosas end up thicker than traditional dosas, but they have great flavor. The sourness and onion flavor are most noticeable. I like the onion so much I may try increasing the amount to a whole cup of onions.

I often serve these some subset of: coconut chutney, raita, samosa potatoes, garlic/ginger greens, and dal or sambar.

The recipe calls for using 6 Tbs. of vegetable oil when cooking the dosas, about 2 tsp. per dosa–1/2 tsp. in the pan before the batter, 1/2 tsp. drizzled over the pancake and 1 tsp. around the pancakes edges. I sometimes just oil the pan for the first dosa. They don’t turn out quite as crisp but they’re still very tasty.

Rating: A-
Derek: A

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Indian Borscht

December 26, 2006 at 8:27 am (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Indian, Meyer & Romano, Other, soup)

This soup is unusual and sophisticated—slightly sweet, slightly spicy, with layers of subtle flavors. It’s good served both hot or cold. Based on a recipe called “Sweet-Hot Beet Soup” from Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mango Lassi

December 10, 2006 at 11:41 pm (Beverage, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Indian, Other, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk)

This recipe is from Jamie Oliver. I found it online at the food network page when looking for a mango lassi recipe.

  • 9 ounces plain yogurt
  • 4.5 ounces milk
  • 4 tsp. sugar
  • 4.5 ounces canned mango pulp or 7 ounces from 3 fresh mangos, stoned and sliced

Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend for 2 minutes, then pour into individual glasses, and serve. The lassi can be kept refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Serves four.

I didn’t quite have the ingredients so this is what I ended up making:

  • 9 ounces organic Stonyfield nonfat vanilla yogurt
  • 4.5 ounces unsweetened soy milk
  • 7 ounces frozen mango pieces from Trader Joe’s
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom

I’ve never had a mango lassi so I’m not sure what it was supposed to taste like, but I thought it was tasty. My friend’s said it tasted right, but was thicker than usual (probably because I used the frozen mango). Personally, I couldn’t taste the soy milk or the cardomom, and I thought it could have used more mango.

Rating: B

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Indian Split Pea and Butternut Squash Soup

November 30, 2006 at 6:32 am (Beans, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Indian, Quick weeknight recipe, soup)

The turmeric, split peas, and butternut squash make this soup a beautiful bright yellow color, and it’s quite nutritions as well.  The Indian flavoring goes really well with the squash and split peas.  I used to make this soup in college when I lived in the co-op, but I no longer remember where I got this recipe from. If anyone knows the source please let me know.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Sambar

October 29, 2006 at 5:56 am (A (4 stars, love), Beans, Derek's faves, Indian, Madhur Jaffrey, soup)

Sambar is a traditional soup that is eaten daily in South Indian, although the vegetables vary. It has a dark, dusky, roasted flavor that is very satisfying on a cold winter day. Read the rest of this entry »

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