I just made this recipe, which I found at The Post Punk Kitchen, and it was so delicious I decided to add the recipe here right away.

I’ve only made a few kinds of dal so far, but it’s really brilliant.  If you’re unfamiliar with the term “dal,”  it refers both to a type of split legume — like chana dal (chickpeas), moong dal (mung beans), and the type in this recipe, masoor dal (red lentils) — and to a stew made from these beans.  This stew is a very common dish in Indian cooking, with as many variations as there are regional and personal preferences, and it’s very nutritious and a good source of protein.  Split legumes cook a million times faster than other dried beans, essentially falling apart after half an hour of boiling and becoming a thick gravy (think split pea soup).  This makes them an ideal base for endless combinations of ingredients.

I did make a couple of small changes to the original recipe:  because I like a thick, chunky dal, I added a bunch of very small cauliflower and broccoli florets, a diced red bell pepper, and a couple of cups of curly kale.  I also added a pinch of salt after adding the tomatoes.  I kept the spices the same, but this would also be nice with a pinch of amchoor (mango powder).  Oh, and I also soaked the lentils for half an hour before cooking them.  This went great over cumin rice.

It’s worth it to take the five minutes to toast the whole spices.  Trust me!

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp peanut oil (I used vegetable oil)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated (or minced)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 C dried red lentils
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 cups water
  • 5 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 C chopped, lightly-packed cilantro (I used 1/2 C parsley)
  • optional ingredients: I added 1/2 C broccoli & 1 C cauliflower, chopped into tiny florets, 1 diced red bell pepper, and about 3 cups of roughly-chopped kale

Spices:

  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 2 dried red chilies (I had to substitute 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric

This recipe, with my additions, made a BIG pot of dal.  Be prepared to freeze some unless you’re feeding a big family.

Instructions:

  • Pick over the lentils, then rinse them well in a mesh sieve, place in a bowl, and cover with water.  Set aside while you prepare the other vegetables.
  • Toast the mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, and whole cloves in a skillet, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.  Let them cool for a few minutes, then grind together with the chilies, cinnamon, and turmeric.
  • Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium to medium-high heat.  When hot, add the onion and saute for 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and ginger and saute 5 minutes.
  • Add the spices and salt, and saute 5 minutes.
  • Add 4 cups of water and stir.
  • Drain the lentils and add them, and the tomato paste.
  • Bring the pot to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  (I simmered 10 minutes, then added the cauliflower and broccoli, then got it back to a simmer for 10 more minutes)
  • Add the lime juice, tomatoes, and cilantro (or parsley).  (This is where I also added the pinch of salt, the red bell pepper, and the kale.)  Stir well, and add water as necessary if it’s too thick.
  • Simmer for 10 more minutes, or until lentils are completely tender.

So good!

One of my favorite takeout-Chinese food items is scallion pancakes.  I know they’re loaded with salt and fat and have very little nutritional value, but they’re so tasty.  Not like I eat a ton of Chinese food or anything, but I’m sure one order of them is enough to clog at least one-tenth of my arteries.  (But they’re so tasty.)

So I was most gleeful to discover the Indian version, called “pudla” in Gujarati.  They’re made with chickpea flour and are ridiculously good.  I found this version on Nourish Me — the original is from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian — and, having all the ingredients on hand, couldn’t wait to make them.  I actually made these for dinner, rolled like a dosa, stuffed with my coriander-ified version of Manjula Jain’s Aloo Masala.  Nom nom nom.

This recipe made 8 pudlas.

Ingredients:

  • 1 C frozen peas, cooked and mashed lightly with a fork
  • 2 C besan (chickpea/garbanzo flour)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 C water
  • large thumb of ginger
  • 4 scallions, finely sliced
  • olive oil for frying

Instructions:

  • Sift besan, spices, and salt into a large bowl.
  • Make a well in the center and slowly trickle in water, mixing well until there are no lumps – it’s important that there aren’t any lumps.  (I ended up having to strain out some lumps via a mesh sieve.)
  • Grate the ginger and squeeze the juice out of it, and add to the mixture, whisking well.
  • Stir in the peas and scallions.
  • Let the batter rest, at room temperature, for 30-60 minutes (I let it rest for 60 minutes).
  • Heat a skillet with about a teaspoon of oil over medium-high heat, moving the oil around so you get it all around the bottom of the pan.
  • Ladle some mixture into the center of the pan.  (If you want to thin it out to use as a substitute for dosa, like I did, use the back of a ladle or spoon in an outward-spiraling motion to spread the batter in the pan.)
  • Cook until, like a pancake, the edges are dry and they’re golden underneath.  Unlike a pancake, before you flip it, spoon on a bit of olive oil and use the back of a spoon to spread it around, then flip.
  • Serve with any variety of accompaniments: chutney, raita, whatever you like.

This recipe for very tasty spiced potatoes is from Manjula’s Kitchen.  By happy accident, I reached for the coriander I’d just crushed for another recipe instead of the cumin I was putting in this one.  I looked at the coriander in the pan, said, “ah, what the heck” and added the cumin anyway (just a little less) and hoped for the best.  The hit of coriander ended up being really nice.  Manjula’s suggestions for variations include adding 2 Tbsp of shredded carrot or green peas.

Use this as a filling for dosa (like an Indian crêpe).  We found them tasty enough to act as a side dish.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • pinch of hing (asoefetida)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds (I used yellow, since I didn’t have black)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 finely-chopped green chili
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro (I used parsley)

Instructions:

  • Wash the potatoes and put them in a large pan with enough water to cover.  Boil until tender enough to easily insert a fork.  Set aside to cool.  *Don’t rinse potatoes with cool water to cool, or they will absorb the water and get soggy.*  When they’re cool, peel them, then dice small.  Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat.  The oil is ready when a cumin seed will crack right away when you drop it in.
  • Add mustard seeds, cumin seed, (and coriander seeds if you’re klutzy like me) and hing.  (Give a quick stir and then get the cover ready – when the mustard seeds crack, they’re like popcorn and will just fly across the room.  You don’t want to get hit with one!)
  • As the mustard seeds stop cracking, add the turmeric, potatoes, chili and salt and mix well.
  • Stir-fry for a few minutes, until the potatoes are nicely finished but not over-done, and everything is fragrant and well-cooked together.
  • Add lemon juice and garnish with cilantro. (or parsley)

I found this made enough to fill 8 dosas nicely.

This is a riff on this recipe I found at Redchillies for Moong Dal and Vegetables with Chole Masala.  All I was able to find at the store was Chole Chaat Masala, which isn’t the same thing, but it does share some of the tangy/sour qualities of chole masala, with ingredients like amchoor (mango powder), ginger, and black salt.  It ended up working fabulously, and this has become my favorite recipe to make with moong dal.

Moong dal is a very small yellow split pea, graced in English with the unfortunate name of Mung Beans.  They’re easily found in Indian/Asian markets, and are nutritious, tasty and versatile. Because they’re so small, it doesn’t take too much time to soak and cook them.  Make sure you put the moong dal in a mesh sieve and rinse really well before soaking and cooking, until the water runs clear.

(It’s important to note that moong dal, while being a yellow split pea, is not the same thing as “yellow split peas” that you can easily find with the dried beans at your everyday supermarket.  Moong dal is smaller, with a more intense color.)

After rinsing the moong dal, put them in a bowl and cover with water, and let soak for about 30 minutes.  Then put them in a pot with enough water to cover, and cook on a simmer for 30-50 minutes, being sure to add more water as needed so that they stay covered.  When done, they should be soft and mushy and easily mashed.  This dal will comprise the bulk of the sauce in the dish.

You can play around with the amount and type of vegetables used.  I’ve used as little as 1 cup and as much as 2.5 cups.  For veggies I’ve used kale, cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers, potatoes, chard (not all at once) – if it makes a good curry, it could probably find a home in this dish.

Ingredients:

  • Veggies of choice, cut/chopped medium-small, 1-2 cups
  • 3/4 C moong dal, soaked and cooked
  • 3/4 C  onion, diced or sliced, your preference
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp grated or minced fresh ginger (try to use fresh, it tastes much better in this dish than ground)
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp chili powder, according to your taste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp Chole Chaat Masala
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • Parsley for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

  • Cook the dal as mentioned above, mash it until smooth, and set aside.
  • Cook the veggies separately, by steaming or briefly sauteeing until tender.
  • In a good-sized saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.  When hot, add the cumin seeds, fry for a minute until the seeds have cracked and become fragrant.
  • Add onion and sweat until translucent.
  • Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt; stir well and cook for another minute.
  • Add chili powder and chaat masala and stir well.  If the mixture is very dry, add a little bit more oil.
  • Add the vegetables and a little water.
  • Add the dal, stir well, and season to taste (a little salt, a little more masala, whatever you like).
  • Simmer the mixture for a few more minutes, until all the ingredients are well-blended.
  • Garnish with parsley.  Serve with cumin rice and a spoonful of raita.  Yum!

This is a very basic and simple raita, cobbled together from various recipes around the Web.  Greek yogurt, a cucumber, a little cumin, and a little chopped parsley, and you’ve got a cooling, tasty accompaniment to a spicy Indian meal.  Most raitas involve cilantro or mint leaves, which I really can’t stand.  Parsley is pretty strong too, but a bit more agreeable.  (To me, cilantro tastes like soap – although I rather like a dash of its milder Other Half, coriander seeds – and the flavor of mint just takes over everything.)  This recipe can be whipped up in a few minutes – the most time-consuming part is prepping the cucumber.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1/2 C plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp finely-chopped parsley leaves

Instructions:

  • Peel the cucumber, de-seed it, then grate it on a medium sized grater.  Place the cucumber in cheesecloth and squeeze out the liquid.  Place it on a fresh cheesecloth in a colander to drain further.
  • Finely chop the parsley leaves.  You can use cilantro instead, if you like it.
  • Mix the cumin and parsley into the yogurt, then add the cucumber and mix well.  That’s it!  Put into the fridge until ready to serve.

I got this very easy, and very delicious, recipe from Syvum.com.   It makes a wonderful accompaniment to a variety of curries.

Ingredients:

  • 1 C basmati rice
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-1/2 tsp butter or ghee
  • 2 C water
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of lime juice

Instructions:

  • Heat butter/ghee over medium heat for about 2 minutes.
  • Add cumin seeds and fry until they crack.
  • Add the rice and stir fry for about a minute.
  • Add lime juice, water, and salt, and mix well.
  • Bring to a boil on high heat.
  • Cover and reduce heat; simmer until water evaporates, 10-15 minutes

Allow to rest, covered, off the heat for five minutes, then fluff with a fork and enjoy!

One of my favorite websites for learning Indian cooking is Manjula’s Kitchen.  Manjula is a vegetarian, originally from Northern India, and her site is awesome.  Along with recipes, she makes and posts videos of her cooking the dishes (she also has a YouTube Channel).  It’s like having a favorite auntie in the kitchen with you.  Her site also contains reference sections that show and describe the various ingredients commonly used in Indian cuisine, as well as tips for stocking your pantry.  From breads to chaat, from appetizers to dosas, from rice dishes to sweet desserts, Manjula’s got you covered.  Go check out her site and enjoy the many recipes and tips she has to offer!