June 30, 2010

Red split gram ~ Masoor ki daal

Lentils or daal as it is called in India is a very important source of proteins in a vegetarian diet.

Lentils are mild and earthy so mostly they are cooked with some assertive flavorings but at times so much so that the spices overpower the mild soothing taste of the star ingredient -"daal". So here, i have tried to make the dish with minimal yet perfectly complementary condiments such that one can savour every spoonful of the magical symphony so created. My idea is for you to explore and relish the clean simple yet the complex rendezvous of flavors in this dish.

To draw an analogy, you are an artist who truly appreciates a random stroke of a bright vibrant color on a blank canvass, to get consumed by this dish.

Red split gram in particular is a skinned, salmon-coloured lentil which cooks very quickly and turns golden when done.

3/4 cup red split gram , cleaned & washed

For Tadka/ frying:
11/2 tsp canola oil
3/4 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 clove of garlic, grated
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
less than 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
salt to taste

Cilantro/ coriander leaves
Juice of half a lemon

The recipe is made in a pressure cooker but in case if u dont have one , use any vessel with a heavy top.

Put the oil in the cooker on medium heat, let it rise to a temperature half way to its smoking point. Add cumin, grated garlic, stir so that the garlic doesnt stick and burn . Let the cumin pop. Now add the red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt -- stir and add a sprinkle of water so that the spices do not burn.

Once u see a film of oil over the tadka/ spices, add the washed red split gram . Stir and add 1/2 cup of water (My personal measure is a water level above the lentils about 1/3rd the length of my index finger)

Close the cooker and bring the stove to high heat. Remove when the cooker whistles once. Let it sit for some time and then open. In case if you are using a vessel, check if the daal is done by pressing it against the vessel walls-- if it gives in and mushes , its done. 

Importantly, serve with a green garnish of cilantro leaves and lemon juice.  Yum!!

Tip: To keep green leafy vegetables intact for long, Drain excess water if any and wrap them in a thick tissue cloth/ paper to be stored in a ziplock in the refrigerator.

June 29, 2010

Spicy roasted eggplant ~Tawa fry bengan

Weekly grocery shopping lands me with eggplants more often than not. The only way i knew how to make them was how we ate at the dinners held at my grandma's place - oily spicy garlicy good. We frequently called the latter the rajputi bengans- fiery red and bold flavoured. I wondered a week back though, if the latter could be made more figure friendly. So here's my take on one of my favourite vegetables. A guilty awesomeness then, made yummy and healthy now.

Star ingredient :
4-5 baby eggplants

For the masala/ spices :
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp ground coriander powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
few drops of water
lemon juice

For the tadka /frying :
2-3 tsp canola oil
pinch of asofetida

To start - slit the eggplants lengthwise twice ,at a criss cross leaving the stem intact.

Mix all the masala and help combine with drops of water to make a thick paste. Take some paste and rub in between the eggplant slits. Less is more, so dont overwork the paste in between slits.

Take a nonstick pan- put 11/2 tsp oil , let it heat on medium to high. Remember eggplant acts like a sponge so put only the minimum required oil at first, adding more if the masala sticks. Once the oil is well heated add asofetida. Place each eggplant rubbed with masala in the pan (the stove is still on medium to high) , sprinkle some coarse salt for better roasting. Roast them for 2- mins each side on high heat, till a crust is formed. Once roasted , sprinkle some water (less is more) and cover. Steam them for 3-4 mins, turning them in between. Once done close the stove and keep them covered.

After 2-3 mins , uncover and sprinkle some lemon juice on the eggplants and serve with a garnish of coriander leaves.

Tip: Never crowd your pan when roasting. Take a bigger pan or roast in batches.
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