A very cozy daal recipe from my grandma’s kitchen. Indians are known to mix lentils always and this is a unique combination of lacey split urad and earthly archer(pigeon pea lentils). Both the lentils are mixed and cooked together in with lots of hing and ginger and then tempered with mustard oil browned garlic slices and dried chillies. You can vary the quantity of each lentil as per your liking. I love deals when they are creamy lacey as well as have a lot of texture, this daal fits so well in that variety.
I remember making faces at this daal growing up but surprisingly enough it is now one of my favorite with rotis especially.
A few things to be kept in mind when making these. Don’t soak the lentils for more than 20 minutes for the right texture. Make them on the thicker side, they taste better than soupy. If you cannot find mustard oil, you can use ghee to temper them and don’t skimp on the garlic. Lastly, dont add salt when boiling the daal, add it later, it keeps the grains soft.
1/2 cup arhar daal
1/3 cup split urad daal
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1/4 tsp hing
1/2 tbsp mustard oil (or ghee)
2-2.5 cups water
salt to taste
Lemon juice, cilantro( to serve)
3-4 tbsp mustard oil (or ghee)
3-4 dried chillies, broken
12-15 garlic cloves, sliced
1.5 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp hing
3/4 tsp hot red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
Wash the lentils 3-4 times until the water runs clear. Add them to a pressure cooker along with ginger, hing and oil.Add 2 cups water and let them soak in the cooker for 15-20 mins.
Once soaked, put on the lid and pressure cook the lentils for 2-3 whistles on medium flame. Do not cook for too long else the lentils will lose their texture. Switch off the stove and let the pressure release naturally. Open the lid and add 1/2 cup cold water along with salt to taste. With the back of a spoon, mash the lentils for 1-2 minutes, gently so that they are creamy but the grains are not broken. Return to a low stove and cook for 3-5 minutes without stirring much. Take off the stove.
Tempering the Daal:- In a small saucepan or your tadka pan, warm up the mustard oil on low medium heat till its a bit smoky. Add the dried chillies and crisp them for 30 seconds, sliced garlic and cook them for 2-3 minutes until they are light brown. Add the cumin and hing next and sauté for 20 seconds. You will smell a nice aroma.
Take off the stove and add the red chilli powder. Add the tempering to the warm daal and mix well.
While he walked down the road, we ran like hooligans to reach the market. It was well past 6 pm and the catch of the day would be sold out in an hour or so, papa told us before leaving home.The earlier your reach the shop, the robust the choice. Making our way through narrow streets, lot of traffic and chaotic roads, you could not help but inhale the stench fishy smell which filled the shop, once you reach. There sat the machali vala (fish vendor),his forehead lit up by the hanging bulb, wearing a yellowish vest, sweat drops glistening on his cheeks, arduously handling the bargains with adamant customers. On his left lay piles of fresh fish to choose from and on the right were hand-held metal scales to weigh.
Papa would choose rohu (green carp),one of the most loved fresh water fish in my family. He had his own ways as to check if it was fresh and that took time. Meanwhile, we gulped down glassfuls of sugarcane juice or nimbu pani, playing outside.
The vendor would throw the fish towards them, shouting ‘ chotey,jaldi se tayyar kar de‘ , asking his boys sitting behind the curtains to quickly clean up and cut papa‘s fish selection.Since majority of the population flocking the market were vegetarian Hindus, butchering fish or meat in open wasn’t a pleasant sight for them.
In my grandma’s home, the utensils for cooking non vegetarian food were separate from the rest of the kitchenware. They still are. I clearly remember the grey and dark blue stained tamchini (enamel ware) which is used to (again) clean up and wash the fish at home, not in the kitchen sink but outside in the yard. ‘Thoda besan aur haldi jaroor laga dena‘, mom reminded every time to massage the fish pieces with turmeric & chickpea flour after washing, while she sauted masala in the kitchen.
Well past 9 pm,the noises in the houses settled, everyone devoted their energy to eating fish curry, taking their time to separate the bones, sniffing the hints of aroma from kasuri methi in the gravy, mixing it up with steamed rice – comforting & delicious.
When I came to States, I did not eat fish for a couple of years, the idea of fillets simply did not appeal to me. Even though I m better now, but still fillets feel like eating potatoes. It was only a year ago that I spotted an oriental market which sells fish steaks that I started making those nostalgic curries again.
The only two things fancy about this fish curry are that its cooked in pure mustard oil and the liberal use of kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) in the masala. Both lend the curry a deep, rich aroma and make it taste tangibly authentic.
Before we hop on to the recipe, let me highlight that kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) is an aromatic herb used to flavor a lot of north indian curries and marinades. It is what makes those tandoori & butter chickens taste the way they do. Pleasantly bitter, strong-tasting but addictive, it is a great herb to add to your spice rubs, sauces and gravies. Available for a couple of dollars both online as well as at all indian stores, it has a long shelf life (more than a year or so). Trust me you REALLY need it in your pantry!
3- 4 fish steaks (I used Tilapia steaks ,select any mild, white fish of choice)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
4 tbsp pure mustard oil (substitute with cooking olive oil or vegetable oil)
3/4 cup red onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large Roma tomatoes, finely chopped (yield about 1 cup)
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1.5 tsp coriander powder
1.5 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp dry mango powder (amchoor, substitute with lemon juice to taste)
1 tsp kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
1/4 cup of water (this depends on how watery your fish is and the desired consistency of the curry, adjust amount accordingly)
Salt to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
Rub the fish steaks with 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
When ready to make the curry, take out the fish from the fridge and let sit at room temperature.
In a heavy bottomed pan, add the oil and heat on high up till you see ripples on the surface.If using mustard oil, you will need to heat it till its smoking to do away the raw smell.Reduce heat to medium.Add the finely chopped onion and cook them till golden brown. About 6-8 minutes.Next, add minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes till you start smelling the aroma.
Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes and grated ginger next along with chilli, coriander, and turmeric powder. Cook this masala on low heat till the oil starts separating from the mix along the sides of the pan. About 10-12 minutes. Cook thoroughly to reduce water. This slow cooking is very important to develop flavors and color of the paste, please do not rush. Allow the masala to reduce till it acquires beautiful reddish to brown color.
Add the marinated fish steaks next to the along with kasuri methi & dry mango powder. Also add salt to taste. Stir around gently so that the fish steaks are coated in the masala. Cover the pan and let the fish cook on low for 5 -8 minutes. This cooking time will depend on the variety, cut and thickness of steaks. Adjust accordingly. When the fish is just about done, add the water and let simmer for another 2-3 minutes
Once the fish is cooked through, let the curry sit covered for at least 30-40 minutes, undisturbed.
Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with steamed basmati rice. (You can warm the curry before serving)
Thousands of miles away, when you cook food which you ate back home – on family picnics, long drives, with friends, at birthdays parties & weddings, there is a certain sense of overwhelm which grasps me.Does it happens to you too? – tastes which remind you of good times spent.One such memory is eating at dhabas in and around Delhi.Dhaba is indian equivalent of a diner, very popular amongst drivers and long distance travellers for quick & inexpensive food.If you ask me the best places to eat in Delhi, I will recommend most of the dhabas on the outskirts of the city and some in Old & central areas.
The typical setting of a dhaba is not fancy,very basic, you might or might not get cutlery or tissue paper, but you are sure to find food made with love and bursting with authentic flavors.Mostly you would be eating on reusable stainless steel plates, you may get mineral water,there might be mosquitos during summers and monsoons [grin],AC is out of question,if it’s a popular place – you ll get chairs else enjoy seating on a cot & don’t shy away from humming old hindi film songs playing on the radio…the food is glorious,the atmosphere – intoxicating! When my dad used to work outside Delhi, most of our summer vacations were spent on road trips. I remember that we used to plan our visits such that we can have dinner at our favorite dhabas which dotted the interconnecting highways.As I write this, my mouth is already watering at the thought of food served – dal makhani [ lentils], palak paneer [ spinach & cheese curry], kadhai chicken served along with hot& fluffy butter dunked tandoori rotis [flatbreads] straight out the the clay oven, jeera [cumin] rice & a BIG glass of lassi or chaas [ salty buttermilk] during summers or masala chai during winters.Here you don’t kill yourself over worrying about calories or hygiene, its the zesty experience which matters!! The recipe in this post is one which you will find at almost every dhaba in north india – trust me the very mention still stirs the emotions of best family times 🙂
“Kadhai” is an indian wok.It is one of the most indispensable utensil in an Indian kitchen..be it for making quick stir fry, curries, shallow or deep-frying or simmering stews.Its shallow & less heavy as compared to dutch ovens and something I just can’t imagine my without.A dish which is made start to finish in a “kadhai” gets its name from there & is Indian answer to a stir fry. However, you do not compulsorily need a kadhai to make this recipe 🙂 The point to keep in mind is that since it’s a quick cooking method, you can make a kadhai with almost anything under the sun.The recipe is very simple, you can prepare & store the kadhai sauce in advance & add whatever you wish to it- from chicken to cauliflower to fish to vegetable medley .Today I chose paneer [Indian Cottage Cheese] which is the most popular of all kadhai preparations in northen India. A typical addition to any kadhai is lots of bell peppers – of all colors, choose any you like.The dish is bursting with indian flavors, mostly made semi dry, is really one of the most colorful curries around & is really simple to whip up.
Although kadhai tastes awesome with naan bread, tandoori roti or even rice, in my home we are used to eating it with tawa parathas or skillet cooked flatbreads.Since childhood , I have known parathas in this triangle shape right from dinner plate to lunch box.Infact my granny was very particular about how neat a triangle you are able to roll out.I hope my pictures of the steps will help you in that regard 🙂 This triangle paratha has layers , is soft & flaky coz its brushed with oil/ghee inside – I can have few of these straight from the skillet on its own- Love the aroma of steam which escapes when you bite the layers. You can add chopped chillies, herbs, spices etc to make your own variations.
Ingredients:- [Serves 2-3]
[ You can replace the paneer with any boneless meat or vegetable of choice]
1 lb / 1.5 kg Paneer, cubed or cut in strips [ Indian Cottage Cheese available in all indian stores, recommended brand “Nanak”]
1 tbsp canola/corn/vegetable oil
1 medium-sized each of red & green bell peppers, seeded, cut in strips or diced
1/2 cup onions, thick sliced [ optional]
Salt to taste [ if required]
Fresh chopped Cilantro for garnish
Fresh lime juice
Basic Kadhai Sauce Ingredients [ Can be made fresh or well in advance.For storing, put in dry-air tight containers & freeze.Thaw 1-2 hours before you need]
1/3 cup mustard/canola/corn//vegetable olive oil
3/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, grated
2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
3-4 fresh tomatoes [ any variety which is slightly sour, chopped fine to yield 1 cup]
1.5 tbsp coriander seeds, coarsely ground with mortar pestle or in coffee grinder
7 dry red chillies, coarsely ground with mortar pestle or in coffee grinder [ adjust to taste]
3 green chillies, finely chopped
3/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 – 1/2 tsp brown sugar [ adjust to taste,do not skip]
2 tsp kasuri methi,crushed with hand [ dried fenugreek leaves,do not skip, makes all the difference in the taste, available in all indian stores under ” Peacock” brand]
2 tsp salt
Make the Kadhai Sauce:- [ Makes about 2.5- 3 cups]
In a kadhai or any heavy bottomed cooking pot, heat the oil on high heat.Once the oil is smoking, reduce the heat to medium.If using mustard oil, it is important to cook it to smoky point at the start of cooking to do away with the raw smell.
Add the chopped onions and cook on medium heat till golden brown in color.
Next,add the grated garlic & ginger and saute for about 2 minutes till you smell the aroma.Next add the chopped tomatoes,coarsely ground coriander & red chillies,green chillies, turmeric and cook on medium heat till you see oil separating at the sides of the pot.About 5-8 minutes.
At this point add the kasuri methi,garammasala, salt & brown sugar,stir well cook for 5 minutes more on medium heat.
Above is the basic kadhai sauce, if you want to store it for later use, let it come to room temperature and refrigerate for using within 3-4 days or freeze up to a month.
Making KadhaiPaneer :- For the stir fry, on high heat 1 tbsp oil in a kadhai or a cooking pot.Add the diced bell peppers & onion slices [ if using] to the oil and saute for 3-4 minutes.This saute time depends on how tender you like the veggies.Next, add the paneer and saute for another 1 minute till paneer sarts to become light brown.Be careful while stirring after you have added paneer because it softens quickly & crumbles easily in heat. Add the sauce and mix well.Check the seasoning and let simmer for 2-3 minutes till everything is heated well.
Remove from heat,squirt some fresh lime juice & sprinkle chopped cilantro.Serve warm with flatbreads& a salad.
3 cups chopped green mango [from 2 large mangoes,raw & sour]
1 tbsp mustard/sesame oil
1/2 tsp Nigella seeds[kalaunji]
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds [methi dana]
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp roasted cumin seeds powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp red chilli flakes [adjust to taste]
1 tsp black salt/kala namak [substitute with normal salt/adjust to taste]
6 tbsp of jaggery
If using a jaggery slab, with the help of a sharp knife cut it into small pieces.Set aside.
In a heavy bottomed pot, heat the oil on medium heat.If using mustard oil- heat it to smoking point to do away the raw smell.
Once heated, add the Nigella, fenugreek, cumin & fennel seeds to the pot.Wait till they crackle & you smell the aroma.About 30 seconds.
Next add the turmeric powder and red chilli flakes to the pot.Cook for another 30 seconds.TIP:Whenever adding turmeric powder to hot oil, keep a watch because it burns easily.
Add the chopped green mangoes to the pot and stir on medium heat to combine well with the other ingredients.Stir for about 2-3 minutes on medium heat.
Next, cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat to low and let the mangoes cook till they are 90% cooked but not mushy.About 15-20 minutes.Again note that this cooking time will depend on how thick you have cut the mangoes.
Add the jaggery to the pot next and combine gently with mangoes.You will see that as the jaggery will cook, it will release water.Do not worry.Everything is as per plan.
Cover the pot again and cook on low heat for another 7-10 minutes until the jaggery has completely melted and mangoes are cooked thoroughly. At this point add the black salt and roasted cumin powder and stir well.
Remove from heat.If you want, you can crush the cooked mangoes slightly using a masher.
As the chuntey will cool, it will become more and more thick so don’t worry if you feel that its is watery when hot.
Once the chutney has cooled, transfer to dry, air tight jars and keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.
‘Chole‘ or chickpea curry is very popular street food in the northern parts of India.The curry is known for its blackish color due to use of tea bags while boiling it and has dominant flavor of roasted cumin.In my house, dry pomegranate seeds or anardana is added to this curry along with lots of tomatoes to make it more tangy or ‘khatte‘.This curry is not hot but is spicy.The chickpea curry is traditionally eaten with bhatura or a fried leavened puffed bread.Some people make a yeasted version of bhatura too.What I am posting is an instant recipe which requires an hour of resting time.
1/3 cup dry chickpeas [substitute with canned garbanzo beans]
1/8 tsp cooking soda
2 black tea bags
Water for boiling
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp grated garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
2 green chillies, minced
3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 black cardamom [badi elaichi]
2 bay leaves
1 tsp roasted cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp dry pomegranate seeds [anardana]
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 cup mustard oil [or canola oil]
Salt to taste
Soak the chickpeas over night in 3 cups water with cooking soda.Once soaked, drain the soaking water and discard it.
Boil the chickpeas with enough water, tea bags & 1 tsp salt in a pressure cooker till 80% cooked.About 15 minutes on high and 2 whistles. [Omit this step if using canned garbanzo beans]
Once cooked, drain the chickpeas and preserve the water.We will use it in curry later.
In your coffee blender, coarsely crush the dry pomegranate seeds, cloves, pods of black cardamom and roasted cumin seeds.Add the cinnamon powder to this spice mix.Set aside.
In a cooking vessel with lid, add the oil and heat it up on high till the oil starts smoking slightly.Once smoking, reduce the heat to medium.
Add the finely chopped onion and cook till golden brown.After this add the bay leaf & saute for 2 minutes.
Next, add the grated garlic, minced chilli & ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Next add the chopped tomatoes along with chilli,coriander,turmeric powder,crushed spice mix made in 4th step and salt.Cook this curry masala on low heat till the oil starts separating from the mix along the sides of the vessel.
Tip in the boiled beans into the vessel and combine well so that all the beans are covered in the masala.Saute for about 3 minutes.
Next add 1/2 cup or more of preserved water depending on how thick you like the gravy,cover and let the gravy come to a boil on a low heat.
Once the curry has simmered for 10-15 minutes, add the garam masala, stir well and let simmer for another 5-6 minutes till the chickpeas are soft,
Remove from heat, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm bhatura
Ingredients: [Makes 6-8 flatbreads]
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp semolina
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 tbsp canola oil
1 small boiled potato, finely grated (about 1/4 cup)
2/3 cup buttermilk,at room temperature ( as required for kneading a soft dough )
Oil for deep-frying.
Combine the all purpose flour with semolina and soda thoroughly.
Whisk oil, sugar and salt in the buttermilk.
Add the grated potato and buttermilk mix to flour mix.Start with 1/2 cup of butter milk and knead well to make dough.You may need to adjust the buttermilk quantity.The dough will be slightly sticky but pliable and soft.Knead for about 5 minutes.
Cover it with wet cloth and keep it in a warm place for 1 hour.
Make a lemon sized balls of the dough.On a floured surface, roll the flour balls into an elliptical shape, about 1/4 ” thick.
Heat oil in a deep-frying fan.A quick way to check the temperature of oil without thermometer is to pinch a small quantity of dough and put it in oil.It should sizzle to the surface immediately.
Once oil is heated, tip in the rolled bhaturas into the oil sliding from the sides of the pot.Be careful because the oil may splutter.Fry the bhaturas flipping them as till they turn slightly golden on both sides.Make sure that you don’t fry the bhatures long because you want them to be soft and light golden.