Tadka Dal

The first week of August has come to an end and it has rained every single day since the beginning of the month. Why hello British summer, so nice of you to join us! (Said no one in the past 7 days). To be fair, I do like me some precipitation. Not only does it provide much needed moisture in my garden, it also proves to be an excellent topic of conversation when you are a) trying to break the ice with someone and b) need a filler for an awkward silence. Very handy indeed.

If it continues like this however, it does mean that my summer dreams of cooking up seekh kebabs, paneer tikka, afghani chicken, masala corn on the cobs & tandoori tiger prawns  (I have been compiling this list since January) on the BBQ, are well and truly over. 

It’s not all bad though, monsoon season in India results in comfort food galore (there is always a silver lining!). For me, comfort food stems from simple dishes done well. That brings me to today’s recipe of Tadka Dal. A buttery & spicy classic lentil dish that is super simple but oh so delicious. The word “tadka” refers to the tempering of spices in oil which is then added to the cooked lentils. My tadka calls for ghee, cumin, ginger & garlic which works wonders to add the perfect amount of richness, heat and flavour all at the same time…that is of course in my humble opinion!

When you make this recipe, I urge you to devour with rice or chapatis and eat with your hands. That’s right….stay away from the spoon people! The satisfaction shoots up to another level. Believe me. I hope you enjoy it – keep me posted on your thoughts!

 

Tadka Dal
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To cook the lentils
  1. 1/2 cup masoor dal*
  2. 1/2 cup yellow split moong dal
  3. 3 ½ cups of water
  4. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  5. 1 tsp salt
To cook the tadka
  1. 2 tbsp oil
  2. 2 tbsp ghee (you can just use 4tbsp oil if you have no ghee)
  3. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  4. 1/4 tsp asafoetida/hing powder (optional)
  5. 1 small onion, finely diced
  6. 1/2 tsp salt
  7. 2 cloves garlic, grated
  8. 1″ ginger, grated
  9. 1 tsp garam masala
  10. 1/2 tsp paprika or chilli powder
  11. 1/2 tsp amchur (mango powder)
  12. salt
  13. 4-5tbsp tomato passata (You can also use tinned plum/fresh tomatoes blitzed up)
  14. 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  15. Handful fresh chopped coriander
Instructions
  1. Wash lentils thoroughly. If you have a pressure cooker, add enough water so it is approximately 2” above the level of the lentils along with the turmeric and salt.
  2. Once the first whistle goes off, reduce heat to low and cook for 6 minutes. Then remove from heat, keep the lid on and allow steam to escape naturally.
  3. If you do not have a pressure cooker, place washed lentils in a pan along with salt and turmeric with 5 and cups of water. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to bring to a simmer and a place lid on the pan. Simmer for 30-40 minutes until the lentils are soft and tender. If the water reduces before the lentils are cooked, you can add more.
  4. Whilst the lentils are cooking, heat the ghee/oil in a separate pan. Add cumin seeds, and asafoetida. When they begin to sizzle, add the onions along with the salt.
  5. Cook for 4-5 minutes until translucent and then add the garlic and ginger. Allow to cook until golden in colour. Now add the passata along with the chilli and cook for a minute.
  6. Lower the heat slightly and add the garam masala, paprika and amchur. Mix well and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until you see the oil begins to separate from the masala at the edges. Remove from heat.
  7. Once the lentils are cooked, add them to the masala sauce along with the water they were boiled in.
  8. Mix well and bring to a boil. If you think the dal is too thick you can add a little more water.
  9. Garnish with the fresh coriander. Taste for salt/chilli and adjust accordingly. Amchur adds tangy-ness. If you feel the dal is lacking slightly when you try at the end, add a little more! Remove from heat.
Notes
  1. *Measuring cups have been used here
  2. I have mixed two lentils here but you can use just one if you prefer. The masoor and yellow split moong variety do not need to be soaked before hand and cook quickly!
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

 

Spicy Sweet Potato Aloo Tikki

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It’s autumn. It’s time to bid farewell to flip flops and open toe sandals and dust off your wellies and fleece (or sheep skin for those who are that way inclined)-lined knee-high boots. Although I am not a big fan of cold, I have a dear admiration for the autumnal months… the red trees that line the avenues, the crisp crunch of fallen leaves underfoot, and the hypnotic patter of welcome rain… are but a few of the sensory pleasures that put a smile on my face.

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Nevertheless my body invariably switches to hibernation mode – that’s “collect carbs and go to sleep” mode in case you were wondering. And that doesn’t even account for the gastronomic adventures of Christmas!!! So I usually make a conscious effort to stay in shape.I do not “diet”. I enjoy food too much. So I see myself as more of a “conscious eater”. It’s probably a phrase I have made up (I do that a lot according to my husband), but it means I just stay aware of what I put in, rather than how much per se.

One of the great boons of Indian home cooking is that we use a lot of spices… which inherently have medicinal and health-promoting properties (as well as adding the “Kapow” to my food). Even now, Indian mothers often treat their children’s cuts and grazes with turmeric paste in preference to any shop-bought antiseptic creams. It just works! What I’m trying to say is that Indian food is healthy… or at least it should be, but it may need a little tweak to get it there. So there is no need to feel guilty when you are making yourself an Indian snack! I don’t (and neither does my other half… who crosses the line between well-meaning appreciation and gluttony with child-like abandon far too often!). For example, try swapping out regular basmati for brown basmati rice or replacing white flour with wholemeal or millet flour. Don’t worry – you will not be sacrificing any of the taste! 

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This brings me to today’s recipe. Aloo tikkis are a street food favourite in India! You will often see locals chowing down on these fried potato spiced potato cakes served with chutneys and salad, on the roadsides in India because they’re so damned moreish! Unfortunately, although they taste amazing they’re probably not the kindest to your waistline. In my recipe I have used exactly the same traditional spices but simply swapped out regular potato for sweet potato, baked instead of fried and served with a kachumber salad (yes… that’s not cucumber… but kachumber – I’m not making it up!). I made a batch of 12 of these and my hubby inhaled them within minutes. I’d like to think that was a testament to the taste and not to his hunger!

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Sweet Potato Aloo Tikki
Serves 2
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Ingredients
  1. 3 medium sweet potatoes
  2. 3" ginger, peeled
  3. 1 clove garlic, peeled
  4. 1/2 cup soya granules
  5. 1 tbsp gram flour
  6. 1 whole birds eye chilli
  7. 2 tsp salt or according to taste
  8. 2 tsp whole coriander seeds, coarsely crushed
  9. 1 tsp paprika
  10. 1/2 tsp amchur/mango powdrer
  11. juice of 1/2 fresh lime
  12. 4 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  13. oil for greasing
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven at 200C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. ( I greased mine with oil)
  2. Place the potatoes inside a plastic carrier bag and tie a knot. Pierce a hole with your finger and cook in a microwave for approximately 12 minutes. (The exact time may vary depending on your microwave and size of potatoes so cook until you can easily place a knife through them).
  3. Allow to cool then peel the skin off (you can easily peel with your fingers) and cut into rough chunks.
  4. Place all the remaining ingredients apart from the oil into a processor. Process everything for 40-50 seconds until it is mixed together well. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Empty into a bowl.
  5. Grease your hands with oil. Now get a walnut size amount of the sweet potato mixture. Roll into a ball and press down slightly so a patty forms. The width should be about 3-4" wide. Place on the baking tray and repeat with the remaining mixture.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes then turn over and cook for a remaining 10 minutes. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. You can make the patties as big or small as you like. If you make bigger ones, they are great in burger buns and make fantastic veggy burgers!
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/