Thursday, April 18, 2013

Masoor Dal

As a devoted near-carnivore, a true lover of meat, the only thing I can say about this dish is... it's made of lentils... and I LOVE it. Definite meat replacement item here.

I think along with strong spices this is one of the secrets of the Indian vegetarian diet. Lentils, especially highly flavored thickly textured lentils like these give the same satiation as meat for me.

To the recipe!

1 cup brown lentils (dal)
1/4 cup orange split dal
4 Tb oil
large pinch fenugreek seeds
2 curry leaves
1/2 medium onion
2 small tomatoes finely chopped
1.5 Tb ginger garlic paste
1 teas cumin seeds
1/2 teas black mustard seeds
1/2 Tb cumin powder
1/2 Tb coriander powder
1/2 Tb cayenne
1/2 teas tumeric
1 teas salt to taste
Fresh chopped Cilantro
Lemon wedge to taste when garnishing

Rinse both the brown and orange lentils (dals) together and soak them in plenty of water for for 6 hours to overnight. In a large pot heat the oil add the curry leaves, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. When they begin to crackle, add the onions.
Cook onions on medium heat till they are a light brown and then add the ginger-garlic paste. Mix well. Allow this mixture to bhunao lightly before adding the tomatoes. While the tomatoes are cooking remove the dal from the soaking water and reserve the soaking water for cooking. Add the dry spices, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and tumeric powders and allow to become fragrant. Add the drained dal and mix well. Add 2 cups of the soaking liquid back into the pan to cook with the dal for a mushier version and add 1 cup of the dal for a drier version

Add salt to taste Appx. 1 teaspoon.

Garnish with a lemon wedge and roughly chopped cilantro.

This can be eaten alone or with bread, or simply served over a bed of rice. It is the perfect vegetarian meal, heck it's even vegan! And believe me... it makes me shudder to even think that word.


Basmati Rice

Basmati rice is prepared much like other types of rice in asia. The main difference is after rinsing with 2-3 changes of water it can be soaked anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours then thoroughly drained usually set into a fine mesh colander and left to drain for 15 minutes. Then it's cooked in just enough water to thoroughly hydrate the rice.

1.5 cups of rice
2 3/4 cups water
1 t salt

After rinsing the rice well set into a pot and soak for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Sources say that the shorter the soak the easier the final product will break into shorter grains and will be more sticky. It's really a balance of time vs reward.

Bring the water, rice and salt to a boil in a saucepan. reduce heat the to lowest setting and cover with a tightly fitting lid. Cook for 10-12 minutes. after 10-12 minutes remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes covered.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Classic Chicken Curry

This is a classic chicken curry recipe, it's not very dynamic, but it's a good introduction for the curry shy and as long as you use the correct techniques it can be very delicious. The first time we made this was before learning how to Bhunao, which is the technique of lightly browning the spices with the onions and ginger garlic pastes. This heats the spices well beyond the boiling point of water which allows the aromatic oils in the spices to be released and to more fully infuse the dish.Without bhunao this dish is quite bland and lacking. It's like a soup without any salt in it. The flavor components are there but the overriding taste is more like cardboard then curry.

 1 lb boneless chicken cubed
2 T oil
1 large onion
2 T ginger garlic paste
2 t garam masala powder
1 t red chilli powder
1 t coriander powder
1 t cumin powder
1 stick cinnamon
1 c yogurt
3/4 C tomato puree
2 medium tomatoes diced
2 medium potatoes diced boiled and drained

Heat oil in a pan add onion, ginger garlic paste and cinnamon stick and saute for four to five minutes. Add the garam masala powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and chicken. Bhunao the mixture by reducing all of the water out of the vegetables and allowing them to stick to the pan lightly, if anything starts to burn add a few tablespoons of water and then repeat try to brown the chicken on all sides. Add the yogurt and tomato puree and diced tomatoes, bring it to a simmer do not boil it or you will make your chicken stringy and dry. Just a light simmer always for proteins. You can either add in the potatoes now or eat them on the side.

Not so Nommy yet.