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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dal Fry with Three Dals- A Delicious Mixed Lentil Soup

It has been a while since I have updated the blog. While the cooking continues, I find myself trying to manage time to be able to do all the tasks at hand. I finally got some time today and decided to pen down this delicious dal fry recipe that I had made for an elaborate dinner a few months ago. Everyone loved it, especially the kids. I got the best compliments from my friend's eight year old who asked her mom to get the recipe so that she could have it at home as well. Well, finally here it is. I made it again last week and thought this is a great recipe to make during these cold winter evenings. Just the thought of steaming hot, delicious dal served with some jeera rice, makes my mouth water. A perfect weeknight comfort meal indeed!

1 cup tur dal/arhar dal/ pigon peas
1/2 cup mung dal - split, peeled yellow mung dal
1/2 cup chana dal/split pea
a pinch of asafoetida/hing
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp tsp oil
1/8 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1-2 green chillies
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 inch ginger, finely minced or crushed
1 red onion, diced finely
2 tomates, diced finely
cilantro/corriander leaves, chopped to garnish
5-6 cups  water
2 tsp garam masala
salt to taste

Mix together the tur dal, chana dal and mung dal. Wash the mixture at least 2-3 times. Then add double the quantity of water compared to the dal, so in this case, 4 cups of  water, hing and turmeric and cook it. I generally use the pressure cooker  to cook the dal (see tips for how to cook the dal if you don't have a pressure cooker). Once cooked, mash the dal a little with a spoon and keep aside. In a deep pan, heat some oil. Then add the cumin seeds and bay leaf. Once they start to brown and change color, add the chillies, onions and the ginger and garlic. Cook this till the onions become transparent and start to change color and the raw ginger garlic smell goes away. Then add the tomatoes and cook them well. Then add the garam masala and fry for a couple of minutes till you can smell the aroma of the masala. Now, add the dal and mix well. Add some water if the dal is too thick. Generally, dal fry is thicker dal (similar to creamy  soups) and not very watery. Add the salt and bring it to a boil and turn off the heat. Sprinkle some cilantro for garnish. Serve hot with rice, pulao, roti or naan.

If you don't  have a pressure cooker, this is how you can cook the dal without having to boil it for hours. Soak the dal for an hour in warm water. Then in a deep pan, boil the dal with at least two times the water, turmeric and hing. Stir occasionally, so that the dal at the bottom of the pan doesn't burn. Turn off the heat when the dal is cooked through, soft and can be easily mashed (about 30-40 minutes) .
As the dal cools down it will thicken. So when you reheat the dal, add a little water and then reheat it. Since the onion and tomato have not been browned, the dal will retain the yellow color. If you do brown it, then that is also okay.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Navratan Korma - A Royal Vegetable Dish

I wish all the readers of my blog a very Happy New Year. I hope 2013 brings you good health, happiness and great food. Since food tastes good only when the cook is happy, I hope each day of yours is filled with great joy which in turn will lead to tastier food.

I have been wondering what recipe I should start the new year with and I couldn't make up my mind. Should I start with a starter and follow through with a complete meal or shall I start with a decadent sweet? Well inspiration just struck and I sat down to pen down this wonderful recipe. This is a medley of vegetables, in a rich, flavorful sauce which is also a little sweet. The dish is called "Navratan Korma". "Navratan" means nine gems and "Korma" means a medley. So literally it is a dish which has at least 9 starring ingredients, mainly vegetables, fruit or dry fruit and paneer. It is cooked in a rich cashew based sauce traditionally with cream added to finish it off. I wanted to lighten the recipe. Also, as I was planning to serve this to many people, I did not want to use any nuts in case of allergies. It was a great success and I must say that I received the best compliments from my friend's nine year old who not only ate all the vegetables, but asked for seconds and told her Mom that this was one of the best vegetable curry she had ever tasted.

1 large red onion, finely diced
1 tbsp + 1tsp butter
3-4 canned whole tomatoes (puree it)
1 tsp corriander/dhania powder
red chilli powder to taste
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp corriander-cumin powder (dhania jeera powder)
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 green chilli, sliced into 2 pieces
1 potato, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup peas
1/4 cauliflower, florets separated into medium size pieces
1/2 cup  green beans, diced
6-7 baby corns, diced into 1 inch pieces (I used canned baby corn)
1/2 cup paneer, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
3-4 sliced of pineapple (I used the ones which are canned, but not in syrup)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup low fat milk
3/4 cup cream
salt to taste
1 cup water

Heat 1 tsp butter in a flat pan, sprinkle some salt and shallow fry the paneer pieces till they are lightly browned on all sides. Keep aside.

Heat the butter in a pan which will be able to accommodate all the vegetables. Add the red onion and saute it till it is softened and translucent. Then add the ginger garlic paste, and the green chilli and fry this till the raw smell goes away. Next, add the tomato puree and cook this mixture for a few minutes. Stir and do not let this brown. Then add the turmeric, garam masala, dhania jeera powder and dhania powder. Stir and fry these spices for 2-3 minutes. Then add 1/2 cup water. Then, add the potatoes, green beans, carrots, cauliflower and red bell pepper and boil this for a few minutes, till the vegetables a partially cooked through. Then, add the rest of the vegetables, the corn, pineapple, and the peas. And finally add the paneer. Cook all of the ingredients together till the all the vegetables, especially the potatoes and cauliflower are cooked through. Then, in a small bowl, mix the milk and cream together and slowly add this mixture to the gravy. Add salt and raisins and boil for a couple of minutes. Serve hot, with some naan or tandoori roti. You can garnish this with some grapes.

Feel free to choose any combination of vegetables. You can use fewer than 9 ingredients as well. If you do not want the sweet tinge, then don't add the pineapple and raisins. If you want a richer gravy, then soak 1/4 cup of raw cashews for a couple of hours and make a paste of these cashews.  Add this paste along with the cream instead of milk. You can also add yogurt instead of cream. Make sure to whisk it till it is smooth.
I used canned baby corn and pineapple. If you use the fresh version, then remember the cooking time will increase and you should either add it in along with the potatoes (specially the corn) or may be semi-cook these in the microwave for a minute before adding to the gravy.
If you don't have canned tomatoes, then you can use fresh tomatoes. To peel them, boil water, then add the tomatoes to the boiling water. As soon as you see the skin is starting to tear up, remove these and put them in a bowl of cold water (ice water is preferred). It will be very easy to remove the skins then.