Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Soul food from India

With each passing day here, it reaffirms my faith in listening to that inner voice, intuition or whatever else we call it and to follow it to where it takes you. And so I’m enjoying the serendipity that’s brought me to this blog. I'm in foodie heaven, and loving it! Thanks Mari for inviting me here.

I'll write a short note of introduction since its my first post on the blog -- A culinary greenhorn, I only started my explorations over the past couple of years. While the smells from my Mom's kitchen were wonderful, I spent much time running around in sports courts to escape the 'girls should know how to cook ' stereotype. Recently, the dreary weather made me crave for home. And I indulged my homesickness with some Indian style soul food-- a huge bowl of lentil curry or Dal. I call it curry mostly because it is too rich in spices to be put into the soup category.

The yellow dal is one of simplest Indian meals and there are subtle and not so subtle variations to the recipe in different parts of the country.

Here's mine. In many restaurants in India, this is probably offered as ‘Dal Fry’.

Dal (Serves 2-3)

1.5 cup yellow lentils (pre-soak in water for about 10-15 minutes)
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp of cumin seeds
Salt, Red chili powder to taste
1 tsp coriander powder
1tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp dried Fenugreek leaves
Half bunch fresh cilantro
1 tsp Blended mix of cloves, black pepper and cardamom (garam masala)

Pour a dash of oil and add cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds start to release their flavor, sauté the onions till pink. Add all the spices and continue to sauté the onions, keeping the flame on medium. Using too little oil will suppress the full flavor of the spices. Sauté till the onions become a deep pink. Rinse the lentils and add. Add three cups of water and let the lentils cook on medium flame. Add more water if you would like curry, but adding more than 4 cups will dilute the flavor of the onions and spices.

Garnish with finely chopped fresh cilantro.

For simpler version, leave out all spices except salt, red chili powder, turmeric and coriander powder.

Happy experimenting!

1 comment:

mashenka@dc said...

I can testify that the dal was excellent. I love vegetables, but in all my vegetable dishes I frequently sneak in a little bacon or anchovies or some sort of animal protein to add flavor--this was a straight up vegetarian dish that tasted amazing...