Monday, June 27, 2011

meat free Monday

So last week, I got the inevitable flu every Durbanite is afflicted with the second the weather turns unbearably cold - unbearably by a Durbanite's standards of course. I don't normally get affected by cold weather but this year has been very strange. I don't know if it's colder than usual, or if I've turned into a summer-loving pansy who can't handle Durban's mild winters. I hope it isn't the latter. But my scratchy throat mocks me.

When you get sick, you want to eat food that warms your senses. Soupy consistency, light, and not meaty. I started fantasising about warming foods and decided to cook a dish that I once ate at an Indian restaurant - dal makhani. It's a gram (chana) dal curry with a swirl of cream, and that swirl of cream is everything - rich, creamy, full of flavour. Love it.

There was just one problem. After I'd made it, I wanted to eat it immediately. So I plated up, broke off a piece of roti and scooped up some curried dal, popped it in my mouth, closed my eyes in anticipation and - nothing. My tastebuds were broken. It was pretty depressing. It felt good though; warm and wholesome. The next day, my taste was restored and I warmed up leftovers - so you can now trust that this dish was indeed yummy.

Dal Makhani

1 cup gram/chana dal (soaked overnight)

1 tablespoon ghee

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or more depending on onions)

1 medium onion, sliced

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

Cloves of garlic, crushed

½ teaspoon crushed ginger, garlic and green chilli paste

2-3 medium tomatoes, liquidized or diced


2 teaspoons dhania jeeru (coriander and cumin powder)

1 teaspoon Ina Paarman’s potato spice

½ teaspoon turmeric

¼ teaspoon red chilli powder

¼ teaspoon tandoori masala powder

¼ teaspoon garam masala

Salt to taste

4-6 tablespoons of cream

Chopped coriander leaves to garnish

Rinse the soaked lentils in a colander under running water. Let drain. Place in a pot and cover with lightly salted water, simmer till soft – 30 minutes or so I think. Whisk lightly if you like the mixture to be a bit mushy also.

While that’s cooking–

In another pot, heat ghee and oil. Add the cumin seeds, leave a few seconds, then stir in the sliced onion, and fry on medium heat, till soft and golden brown. Stir in the crushed garlic, and ginger-garlic-green chilli paste. Let it simmer for a minute, then add the liquidized/diced tomatoes. Let this simmer till cooked, water from the tomato evaporated somewhat. Now add in the dry spices and stir till combined, letting the mixtures meld together. It’s alright if you don't have Ina Paarman’s Potato Spice and tandoori powder, this is how I made it the first time and because I liked how it tasted I quickly made a note of it. You can add more chilli powder to taste as well, or use your go-to curry spices that you usually like.

Drop in the mushy dal, and simmer on low for five minutes. Stir in generous tablespoons of cream and let it simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat. When serving, chop fresh coriander and sprinkle over.

“Aloo Fry”

I always think of these as the Indian version of French fries. Used to love it, but rarely make it since its deep fried – but, as we all love to say, everything in moderation!

2-3 large potatoes

¾ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons dhania jeeru (coriander and cumin powder)

1 teaspoon chilli powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

Heat 2-3 inches vegetable oil.

In a large dish, slice potatoes into thin circles and add spices in, coating each slice well. Deep fry potatoes until cooked and leave a little longer to get slightly crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, and let drain in a single layer, on paper towels.

Serve as a side, or garnish like in the picture.

Plate up, serve with fresh rotis or some yummy bread rolls to sop up the gravy.



salma m said...

Love your plating and snapshot! Looks appetising x 100!

Definitely going to be making this in the near future!

max said...

I was trying my best to make it look pretty for the camera, so thank you Salma! :)