Dal Makhani

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What pasta is to Italians is what dal is to Indians. It’s a staple across the country and when accompanied with rice it’s a dish considered to be the “bread and butter” of the cuisine. 

My cousins in India find my love of lentils a little odd. They often roll their eyes when their respective mothers tell them that “dal is for dinner”.  In fact if you asked my cousin Sahil what he thinks of lentils his response is a facial expression akin to that of the straight faced emoticon (yeah the one that has a horizontal line for it’s lips). He’d rather have a “McMaharaja” burger than masoor dal which is fair enough (Maccy D’s in India is pretty great) but I just don’t think he is giving it the chance it really deserves!

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For me, dal is quintessentially Indian. One of my fondest memories when spending summer holidays in India, was the sound of pressure cooker whistles going off at lunchtime throughout the neighbourhood. The aroma of pulses cooking away would fill the streets and I would immediately feel hungry. From moong and masoor to toor and channa, each household has their favourite dal and unique way of preparing it. I love how the amazing variety of lentils can result in endless flavours and dishes! 

Today’s recipe is one of my absolute favourites. Dal Makhani is silky, creamy and spicy all at the same time. Typically served with buttery chapatis or naans it’s utterly comforting and you are never judged for taking seconds (or thirds!). Enjoy…

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Dal Makhni
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup black urad lentils
  2. 1/4 cup kidney beans or rose cocoa beans
  3. 1/4 cup channa lentils
  4. 1 1/2 tsp salt
  5. 1 medium onion
  6. 3 large garlic cloves
  7. 3 peppercorns
  8. 3 cloves
  9. 1 black cardamom
  10. 1 bay leaf
  11. 2" piece cinnamon stick
  12. water
  13. 3 tbsp ghee or butter
  14. 1 tsp cumin
  15. 2" ginger, finely chopped
  16. 2 plum tomatoes & 2 tbsp tomato juice
  17. 2 birds eye green chillies
  18. 1 tsp coriander powder
  19. 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  20. 1 tsp garam masala
  21. 1/4 cup cream (optional)
  22. handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. Place the urad lentils, kidney beans and channa lentils together in a bowl and soak in water overnight. Rinse and keep aside.
  2. To a pressure cookery, add the soaked lentils, onions, garlic, peppercorns, cloves, black cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon and salt along with 4 cups of water. Carefully place the lid on the cookery and place on high heat. When the first whistle goes off, reduce to low heat and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Allow the steam to escape naturally before opening the lid.
  3. Mash the lentils using a masher until they are blended together.
  4. If you do not have a pressure cooker, place above ingredients in a sauce pan along with 5 cups of water and cook until lentils are tender. (This will take approx 45 minutes). If the water reduces before they are cooked, add more throughout. Once cooked and mashed, keep aside.
  5. Heat ghee in a non-stick pan. Once hot, add the cumin. When the cumin begins to splatter, add the ginger and for 2 minutes until slightly brown.
  6. Now add the tomatoes along with the chillies. At this point, add the coriander powder, chilli powder, garam masala and fresh coriander.
  7. Cook for 2 minutes. When you see the oil separating, add the lentils and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add cream and cook for another minute.
  8. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Turn off heat.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Afghani Chicken Drumsticks

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The temperature went into double digits today. Double digits people. That means no more scarves, no more knee high boots and dare I say it no more de-icer? It also means that the sun has got his/ her hat on and Summer is quickly approaching! Yes I am doing a happy dance as I type this (mad skills I know). As the weather gets slightly warmer, I enjoy taking advantage of the grill and my husband with his epic salad making abilities.  

I love recipes that involve marinating and grilling – they’re so easy to make, require minimal washing up and can be prepared in advance. What’s not to like? This Afghani chicken marination is a particular favourite of mine. The addition of ground cashews and almonds makes for a lovely, creamy base. Combined with the tartness of the lime and the heat from the chillies…can I get a MMM MMM MMMM?! 

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Hope you enjoy! As always, let me know what you think in the comments 🙂

Afghani Chicken Drumsticks
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 8 chicken drumsticks, skinless with slits cut into them
  2. 4 tbsp yoghurt
  3. 2 tsbp extra thick double cream (optional)
  4. 3" ginger, peeled
  5. 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  6. 2 green finger or birds eye chillies (optional)
  7. juice of 2 limes
  8. 5 almonds
  9. 10 cashews
  10. 2 1/4 tsp salt, or according to taste
  11. 1/2 tsp paprika
  12. 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  13. 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  14. 1 tsp garam masala
  15. 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  16. 1/4 tsp ground green cardamom (optional)
  17. handful fresh coriander including stems, roughly chopped
  18. 2 tbsp oil or ghee
Instructions
  1. Line a baking tray with foil and turn your grill on the highest temperature setting
  2. Place the chicken in a bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients apart from the yoghurt and cream into a processor and blitz into a paste. Empty into a bowl. Now mix in the yoghurt and cream.
  4. Pour this marinade over the chicken and mix well. If you have time, cover and refrigerate over night. If not, place in oven straight away.
  5. Cook for 10 minutes. Then turn the chicken over and cook for an additonal 10 minutes or until the chicken is white all the way through and has begun to char slightly.
  6. Turn off grill and serve with salad and tandoori naan!
Notes
  1. You can soak the almonds and cashews in a little water beforehand so it is creamier when blended in the processor.
  2. Feel free to use any cut of chicken - chicken thighs are also great for grilling!
  3. You can marinate the chicken for up to 48 hours - the longer you leave it the better.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Bhindi Dopiyaza – Spiced Okra & Onions

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Lady fingers, okra, bhindi. Whatever you call them…they tend to split the opinion polls! Some love them. Some hate them-well they think hate them…I am of the opinion that they just haven’t had them cooked well yet!  I am (obviously) a fan and a huge one at that. Okra tends to get a bad rep for it’s slimy texture but with the right recipe, this dish will become a favourite and a firm part of your culinary repetoire.

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Containing high levels of vitamin A & B and folic acid, okra is super healthy and quick to make. Layered with heat, tang and slight sweetness, bhindi dopiyaza is perfect gobbled up with buttery chapatis.

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Bhindi Dopiyaza
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Ingredients
  1. 3 tbsp olive oil
  2. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  3. 1 tsp nigella seeds
  4. 500g okra
  5. 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  6. 2 birds eye chillis, finely chopped
  7. 1 1/2 tsp salt
  8. pinch of sugar
  9. 1 tsp garam masala
  10. 1/2 tsp paprika
  11. 1/2 tsp turmeric
  12. 1 tsp amchur (sun-dried mango powder)
  13. 1 tsp haldi (turmeric powder)
  14. 4 cherry tomatoes, halved
  15. handful of chopped cilantro
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a non stick pan. Now add the cumin and nigella seeds.
  2. When they begin to sizzle, place the onions, chillis and okra in the pan and add salt. Mix well and cook on medium heat for approx 5 minutes, mixing every couple of minutes. You will see slime strands at this point.
  3. Reduce heat low and place lid on pan and cook for 5-7 minutes, mixing it every couple of minutes.
  4. Remove the lid and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes or until the slime strands begin to reduce and eventually disappear.
  5. Now add the spices and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and coriander and mix. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Mix well and remove from heat.
Notes
  1. It's important to cook out the okras until the slime strands disappear. Slightly overcooked okra is perfect for this type of dish!
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/