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/

Indian Spicy Masala Porridge

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It’s been a busy start to the New Year! My other half and I decided it would be a good idea to begin 2016 by completing a job that had been collecting dust at the bottom of our “To Do” list for a little while. A task we had been putting off for months… redecorating the house. 

What followed were multiple trips to various DIY stores to pick everything from masking tape and sanding paper to paint brushes and light fittings. Annoyingly, we scrutinised over every detail. The combination of being indecisive and new to the situation did not help either. It also meant we learnt LOTS along the way. For example did you know that skirting board comes in more than one size – and that you should probably check you have the right size before cutting it. Who knew?! (Ps. If anyone needs some 14cm skirting board please holler… my shed will thank you). 

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If you have ever had work done in your home, you will know two things very well: 1) How disruptive it can be to your everyday routine… and… 2)How quickly dust becomes your arch enemy-it gets everywhere! We cleared most things into our guest room and kitchen which meant that cooking, was well… a royal pain in the bottom. It also meant that during that time, I often defaulted to cooking dishes that were stress free and quick and easy to make. That brings me to today’s recipe! (Excellent segue skills, I know). Spicy masala porridge is my go to dish when I’m craving something filling & comforting and it should be yours too. It also gets bonus points for only taking 10 minutes to make! It’s creamy & crunchy and topped with some mango pickle and plain yoghurt, it’s a real crowd pleaser. So much so that the dating website Match.com featured this recipe on their website! (Check it out here).

Ps. I am now very pleased to say that our decorating is now complete and we have now settled back into our fresher & somewhat newer looking, home (yay!). 

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Indian Spicy Masala Porridge
Serves 2
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup (240g) of porridge oats
  2. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  3. 2 ½ cups water
  4. 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
  5. 1 tomato diced, diced into ½ cm pieces
  6. 1 small carrot, diced into ½ cm pieces
  7. 2 broccoli florets, cut into small chunks
  8. 1 green birds eye chilli, finely chopped (optional)
  9. 1tsp salt or according to taste
  10. ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  11. ¼ tsp paprika
  12. ¼ tsp garam masala
  13. 1/4 tsp amchur/mango powder (optional)
  14. handful fresh coriander, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Heat a non-stick pan and add the porridge oats and cumin.
  2. Toast on medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously.
  3. When you see the oats being to change colour and become slightly darker, add the water immediately.
  4. Increase the heat to high and add the onions, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli and chilli.
  5. Mix well. Now add salt, turmeric, paprika, garam masala and amchur.
  6. Allow the porridge to thicken and come to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle on fresh coriander and remove from heat.
  8. Enjoy on its own or with a dollop of yoghurt and mango pickle!
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Spicy Mushroom Potato Sabji

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Something life changing happened last week. We got a mattress topper. I thought our bed was nice as it was but oh Lordy…comfort levels have now been taken to the upper echelons of the slumber world. And as much as I am loving the ridiculous amount of snuggly cosiness this new topper has brought into my life, it seems to have simultaneously introduced a problem. You know when you look at the clock and realise you were supposed to be somewhere 10 minutes ago…yeah that. I can no longer get out of bed in the mornings! 

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I went through a similar experience over the weekend where I woke up late and I had to leave the house asap. Whilst getting ready I realised I was starving and wouldn’t get home till late. I started pondering over what I could make. Okay Monica, think quick food. Cereal? Out of milk. Eggs? Nada. Sandwich? No bread..or filling for that matter. I hurried downstairs and opened the door to a relatively bare looking fridge (it had been one of those weeks). I saw pomegranate, and baby button mushrooms. I picked the latter. I then opened the pantry and saw onions & potatoes. Boom. I had an idea. Ten minutes later I had a spicy mushroom & potato sabji. I wrapped it in a chapati and gobbled it up in seconds. It was delicious! I’d like to think it didn’t have anything to do with my hunger as I was craving it when I got home and made it all over again for dinner.

Quick, simple, easy and spicy! Have a go. 

Oh before I sign off, just a quick thank you to you guys as Spice Diary was recently ranked in the top 50 food blogs in India. Thanks for your support lovely people! <3

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Spicy Mushroom & Potato Sabji
Serves 2
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Ingredients
  1. 75g button mushrooms, washed & cut in half
  2. 3 small potatoes, washed
  3. 1 small red onion, sliced
  4. 2 tbsp olive oil
  5. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  6. 1 birds eye green chilli, whole
  7. 1 tsp salt (or according to taste)
  8. 1 tsp sambar masala
  9. handful fresh coriander
Instructions
  1. Place potatoes in a plastic bag and tie a knot. Pierce a hole and place in microwave. Cook on highest power setting for 7 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly. Then cut into 2" chunks.
  2. Whilst potatoes are cooking, heat oil in a pan. When hot, add the cumin. Th cumin should splatter immediately. Now add the onions, chilli and mushrooms.
  3. Sauté for 30 seconds, then add the salt and sambar masala. Mix well and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  4. Now add the cooked potatoes, and mix. Cook for another minute and add the coriander. Mix.
  5. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Remove from heat & enjoy!
Notes
  1. 1) Sambar masala is a spicy, tangy spice blend available at all Indian grocery shops. I have also seen it in some supermarkets in the worldwide section so worth checking!
  2. 2) When cooking potatoes, some microwaves have different power intensities, so just check potatoes are cooked by cutting through them with a knife.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/