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/

 

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 powder
  12. 1 tsp amchur (sun-dried mango powder)
  13. 4 cherry tomatoes, halved
  14. 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/

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/