Saturday, May 29, 2010

Feel my Pulse

As much as I love to have variety in my food, my heart yearns for a large bowl of dal with plain white rice. Once a week I make a family favorite – Traditional Gujarati sweet and sour tur dal which I like to serve with plain white cooked rice, roasted papad and a salad of finely chopped cucumber, onion, tomato, cilantro and dressed with the juice of fresh lime & salt…….that’s all that’s needed, to feed my soul.

This dal can morph into another dish called Dal Dhokli instantly! The recipe is exactly the same, excepting that I add small bite sized pieces of cooked/uncooked chappati and boil it in the dal for a few minutes prior to serving, making it an excellent dish to be served on cool winter nights or on days when one feels low and needs an instant boost (i.e., when retail therapy is not condusive).

Gujarati sweet and sour tur dal
1 cup uncooked tur dal
3-4 tsp peanuts, skin removed
1 medium sized tomato, finely chopped
1-2 green chilies, slit
1 dried red chili (optional)
6-8 cloves
1-2 inch piece of cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
¾ tsp mustard seeds
A pinch of asafetida
½ tsp turmeric
2- Kokum skins, or 1 tsp tamarind paste, or juice of 1 lime
2-4 tsp jaggery/brown sugar, depending on your taste
Few curry leaves
2tsp chopped coriander leaves
1 tsp oil
1 tsp ghee or unsalted butter
Salt to taste


Wash tur dal well and add 4-5 cups water, turmeric and peanuts. Cook this in a pressure cooker for 15-18 minutes or in a dutch oven for 30-45 minutes or until the dal has completely disintegrated. Whisk the mixture and set aside.

In a another cooking pot add oil and ghee and bring to a smoke, add dried red chili, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, mustard seeds, curry leaves, green chilies (in the exact order) and allow the seeds to sputter. Add the chopped tomato and cook until pulpy (about 1-2 minutes). Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Add the dal mixture the kokum skins/tamarind juice if available. Allow this to simmer on a med-low flame for about 15 minutes, add the jaggery and cook for a few more minutes. Remove from fire, add lime juice and coriander leaves. Serve warm with rice or roti’s.

This recipe has been submitted for the event – Delicious Dal’s from India, hosted by Suma of Veggie Platter

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bean me up, Scotty

Utter silence on Virtual Vegetarian doesn't mean that my life has drifted into oblivion – it’s quite the contrary! The beginning of the year saw a change of residence…we moved from the US of A to India and I’ve been neck deep in trying to rehabilitate into the “Indian psyche” and let me tell you….it is more difficult than what I imagined it to be, considering I had lived here for the first decade and half of my life! Apparently things have changed so much that I seem to have been stuck in the late eighties, when things were very different from modern day liberalized India.

Amongst the various changes in my life, one has been that I now have a cook (yeah!!!!!) and so I am not cooking as much, excepting for the occasional soup/pasta/Indian Chinese. However Sunday is the weekly day off for the cook and so I do cherish cooking some of my favorite dishes. This week I made my favorite Kala Masala Channa, AKA Chole.

The dish is quite simple and can be made with either pre-soaked Kabuli chana (Garbanzo bean) or the canned variety, it has a very light gravy, softened beans, tongue tickling flavor and a wholesome brunch item. I particularly favor this recipe as it involves very little prep work and does not use onions/garlic/heavy masala which is what one associates with like an Amritsari Chole, Pindi channa or Peshawari Chole. I usually serve it with either a good sour dough bread or white rice/Pulao.

An addition unique to my Chole is the use of ENO fruit salt (non flavored) instead of regular baking powder/soda which help facilitate the breakdown of the tough outer skin of the Kabuli Chana / Garbanzo bean, which is often the culprit for the gassy feeling or the dreaded flatulence one gets after consuming legumes/beans. ENO can be used for cooking any type of beans and does not alter the taste of a dish, plus it reduces the cooking time of beans considerably.

ENO, for those of you who do not know what a fruit salt is, it is a mix of Sodium Bicarbonate (46.4%), Citric Acid (43.6%), Sodium Carbonate (10%). It is not as sensitive to food formations as straight Sodium Bicarbonate plus it does not have that "aftertaste" that Sodium Bicarbonate has. ENO can be puchased at an Indian grocer or online at Amazon.

Kala Masala Channa – Chole

150 gms dry Kabuli Chana, soaked overnight or 2 cans of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp cumin seeds
3 tbsp coriander seeds
3 tbsp chaat masala (Everest or Roopak brands)
2-3 tsp oil (groundnut/olive)
2 green chilies, slit
2 tsp ENO fruit salt if available
Salt to taste

Toast cumin and coriander seeds in a skillet until the spices are blackened (will look burnt), cool and grind to a fine powder. Heat oil in a pressure cooker or a heavy bottom pan, add the ground spice blend and allow it to sizzle for 20-30 seconds. Add the soaked legumes and about 4-6 cups of water, salt, green chilies and ENO fruit salt (since it is an effervescent it will sizzle). Cover and cook for 15-22 minutes in a pressure cooker or if you are using a dutch oven (highly recommended) cover and cook on a low flame for an hour or until the beans have softened (you should be able to squeeze a bean without effort between two fingers). Mash a few of the beans with the back of the ladle against the pan and bring to slow simmer or until the gravy has thickened. Sprinkle Chaat masala and coriander leaves (optional) before serving.

This recipe has been submitted for the event, Cooking with Seeds - Cumin Seeds an event created by Priya of Priya's Easy and Tasty Recipes, and hosted by Saraswathi of Sara's Corner.

In addition this recipe has also been submitted to the event, My Legume Love Affair (MLLA-23), hosted by Susan of the The Well-Seasoned Cook.