Easy Moong-Masoor Dal

This hearty recipe is all you need to warm up during these cold, grey and drizzly evenings bringing a fuzzy feeling of warmth from the inside out.

Dal (lentil curry) forms an integral part of the staple Bengali diet and is present at most mealtimes in a every traditional household. Surprisingly simple, yet nutritiously satisfying, dal can also be enjoyed, guilt-free, as a protein-rich soup if you prefer a lower carb meal.

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cooking Time: 55 mins

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

  • Β½ cup split moong dal
  • 1 cup masoor dal
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Β½ tsp ground coriander
  • Β½ ground cumin
  • Β½ tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 green chillies, split lengthwise (optional)
  • 1 tbsp oil

For the tempering

  • 1-2 tbsp oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp panch phoron (Bengali five spice mix*)
  • 1 tsp crushed red chilli (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Method

  1. Dry roast the moong dal over a gentle flame until the aromas are released, stirring constantly. This will take about 3-4 mins and the lentils will change colour very slightly. Set aside to cool.
  2. Combine the cooled moong dal with the masoor dal and rinse until the water runs clear.
  3. Place the lentils in a medium saucepan and add 3 cups water with the salt. Bring to boil, removing any foam which is formed.
  4. Add the onions, garlic and ginger paste, the dry spices (turmeric, coriander, cumin) and the oil. Stir well, cover and simmer on low until the lentils are cooked. This will take no more than 30 mins.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and run a whisk or hand blender through the cooked lentils to create a smooth, rich consistency.
  6. Return the pan to the heat and add the last cup of water. Add the green chilli (if using) and turn up the heat and bring back to boil. Lower the heat and cook on a medium flame for approximately 10 minutes, to achieve a less watery consistency. The dal should still be runny. Turn off the heat and cover the saucepan.
  7. For the tempering, place a small wok or frying pan over a medium flame. Heat the oil, then add the bay leaf and garlic. Cook off for 1-2 mins until the garlic begins to brown.
  8. Turn off the heat and stir in the five spices and red chilli flakes, if using.
  9. Remove the lid from thevsaucepan of cooked dal and pour in the tempered spices. Scoop a spoonful of the dal into the tempering vessel and then gently scrape the dal back into the saucepan again to capture all the flavours from the tempered spices.
  10. Place the lid back on the dal and allow the flavours to infuse through.

Your dal is now ready!

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Sabut Masoor Dal (Whole Red Lentils)

One of my favourite lentil curries often made at my in-laws, I have just reduced the use of oil to the bare minimum 😊 Enjoy with naan, boiled rice or fragrant zeera (cumin) rice for a wholesome, healthy and heart-warming dish on a cold winter’s day.

Prep time: 5 mins

Cooking time: 45 mins

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole red lentils
  • 3 cups water + plus a more during cooking
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 green chilliest ( optional)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste, or 2 cloves finely minced
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • Handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • Fresh ginger slivers and lemons wedges (optional garnish)

How to prepare

  1. Rinse the lentils and pressure cook until tender (about 20 minutes).
  2. Heat the oil gently in a saucepan and add the cumin. Wait till they change colour.
  3. Add the onions and green chilli; cook until the onions have softened.
  4. Add the garlic and cook off for 30 seconds.
  5. Stir in the tomato with the salt, cover and cook until softened completely.
  6. Add the dry spices and sautΓ© for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add a little water and continue cooking to create a semi-dry mixture – ‘bhuna’.
  8. Add the cooked lentils to the pan and mix well.
  9. Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup hot water, stir again and bring to boil.
  10. Simmer the dal until the desired consistently is achieved – add more water if you preferred a runnier curry.
  11. Stir in the coriander leaves and remove from the heat.
  12. Top with the ginger slivers and lemon wedges, if using.

Gobi Bhuna

A delicious yet simple semi-dry dish, best enjoyed with traditional roti or in a wrap for a satisfyingly healthy meal!

Prep time: 5 mins

Cooking time: 25 mins

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 medium cauliflower, separated into florets
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 tsp level curry powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped

How to prepare

  1. Rinse the cauliflower and leave aside to drain.
  2. Heat the oil gently and add the cumin and mustard seeds. Wait till they change colour; stir in the dried chilli and curry leaves.

3. Add the garlic and curry powder and cook gently for 1 min.

4. Add the tomatoes, cauliflower and salt; turn up the heat and stir fry for 2-3 minutes.

5. Cover and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes.

6. Add a splash of water, lower the heat, cover and cook until then cauliflower is tender.

7. Stir in the coriander leaves and serve.

Spicy Aubergine Stew

Last night I was ‘Desperately Seeking Spice’ and discovered a plump aubergine hiding out in my refrigerator 😊 I had 45 minutes to present something palatable and suitably spicy before it was time to break my fast. So I decided to cut out the elaborate prep and just throw it all into one of my dinky little woks and hey presto!

Prep time: 3 mins

Cooking time: 25 mins

Serves 1-2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 large aubergine, cubed
  • 1/2 bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp roasted ground cumin
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • Salt to taste

How to prepare

  1. Place all the ingredients, except the oil, into the wok and mix well.
  2. Drizzle the oil and stir in.
  3. Cover and allow to cook until the aubergine is tender.

Word of caution: Those normally adverse to aubergine may just be tempted to delve in so keep the dish by your side and only offer to share at the risk of missing out 😜

Chickpea & Rocket Salad

I just love this salad as a healthy, high protein, low-fat zingy variation of a desi chaat. Completely versatile as either a quick lunch or a starter dish, you can be as imaginative with the ingredients as you wish!

Prep time: 10 mins

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 480g chick peas (2×400 tins, drained)
  • 1 medium or large tomato, diced
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • Large handful of rocket leaves
  • 1 tsp amchur (mango powder)
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

How to prepare

Simply mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Chill if desired and serve!

Gluten-free Besan (Gram Flour) Rotis


Prep time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 30 mins

Serves 4

Posting on demamd, this is a healthy,  gluten-free easy alternative to regular chapatis which I have adapted from the mum-in-law – the inspiration behind much of my creative cookery 😊

A runny batter ensures the rotis are spread thinly and cook inside out without burning.

Enjoy with your tea as breakfast or some yogurt and any side dish of your choice as a complete meal.

Ingredients 

  • 3 cups gram flour
  • Handful fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1tsp cumin seeds or carom seeds
  • 1/2 tsp garlic granules
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp crushed red chilli
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • Salt as needed
  • 2.5 – 3 cups water (enough to make a runny batter)

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients to make a runny batter.
  2. Gently heat a tava or wide shallow frying pan. Spray with oil – to ensure the roti does not stick.
  3. Pour enough mixture to fill the base of the tava or pan in a thin layer.
  4. Cook over a low heat until the mixture has set – about 6-7 mins.
  5. Flip the roti with a slotted spoon and cook the other side until completely cooked – another 5-6 mins.
  6. Repeat steps 2-6 until all the mixture has been used.

Note: The number of rotis this recipe yields will depend on the size of your pan. I used a pan with a 21cm wide base and made 4 rotis.

Cauliflower and Lentil Curry tempered with Fennel, Cumin and Mustard Seeds

Where do I even begin! I have been run down most of the week struggling to teach my yoga class on Wedneaday and not able to go to the gym since Monday 😱 I was determined to make the day count so at the first sign of recovery I felt my creative juices flowing again. So here we are, a popular vegetarian curry which I have just added a bit of this and that to and adapted to my own liking; gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan, low fat and rather delicious 😜 Perfect for my yoga students πŸ™πŸΌ

Rich in protein with a good balance of veg and just a tablespoon of oil this is a nutritious meal in itself. Of course if you need your carbs just pour two generous dollops over some boiled rice.

I actually made it to the gym this afternoon and helped myself to two bowlfuls upon my return. Guilt-free pleasures of my simple life πŸ˜ŠπŸ™πŸΌ

Prep time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 30 mins

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

2 cups red lentils

6 cups water

2 tbsp ginger purΓ©e

1 small cauliflower, separated into small florets

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large tomato, chopped

2 green chillies (optional)

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cumin, roasted

1/2 tsp chilli powder

Salt to taste

Handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped (optional)

For the Tempering

1 tbsp veg oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp dried curry leaves

HOW TO COOK

1. Wash the lentils and place in a medium saucepan with the water.

2. Add the ginger, onion, dry spices and salt.

3. Stir well and bring to boil.

4. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes until the lentils are soft.

5. Strike in the cauliflower, tomato and green chillies, if using).

6. Cover and cook on medium heat until the cauliflower is tender – about 10 minutes.

7. To prepare the tempering, gently heat the oil in a small wok or frying pan.

8. Add the cumin seeds, fennel seeds and mustard seeds. Allow them to sizzle.

9. Stir in the garlic and cook until browned.

10. Mix in the curry leaves.

11. Pour this mixture over the curry. Stir in and cover the pan to allow the flavours to infuse through the dish.

12. Garnish with coriander leaves before serving.

Curried Red Lentil Stew

A simple, nutritious protein rich dish to be enjoyed as a meal in itself or served over a bed of rice. 

 Prep Time: 10 mins

Cooking Time: 40 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1.5 cups red lentils

1 red onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1″ root ginger, minced

1 tomato, chopped

2 celery sticks, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp grounded cumin, preferably roasted

1/4 red pepper flakes or chilli powder

Salt to taste

2-3 cups water

For the tempering

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 bay leaf

6-7 curry leaves

How to cook

  1. Wash and drain the lentils and place in a medium saucepan with the water.
  2. Add the vegetables, garlic, ginger, onions and spices.
  3. Stir well and bring to boil.
  4. Cover and simmer over a low flame for 30 mins or until the lentils and vegetables have softened.
  5. Gently mash using a wooden spoon, add the chilli and salt.
  6. Cook uncovered for another five minutes or until the desired consistency is reached. Remove from the heat.
  7. Place a small non-stick pan over a medium flame and heat the olive oil.
  8. Add the mustard seeds and allow to sizzle.
  9. Stir in the garlic and cook until slightly browned.
  10. Add the bayleaf and curry leaves and stir through.
  11. Pour the tempered spices over the cooked stew and cover immediately to seal the frangrance.
  12. Stir well before serving.

Mattar Pulao (Peas Pilau)

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 35 mins
Serves: 4


IngredientsMattar Pulao

  • 2 cups Basmati Rice
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1″ root ginger, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1″ stick cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 cups hot water
  • salt to taste

How to cook

  1. Rinse the rise and drain thoroughly. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil over a medium flame and the cook the onions until softened and only slightly browned.
  3. Add the bay leaf, cinnamon and cumin seeds; allow the seeds to change colour.
  4. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for 2 mins or until slightly browned.
  5. Stir in the peas and cook for 3-4 mins.
  6. Add the rice and stir fry for 20-30 secs.
  7. Add the water with the salt and bring to boil.
  8. Seal the pan with foil and cover with the lid and cook on low heat for 25 mins (use a heat diffuser beneath the pan if it is not a non-stick pan).
  9. Remove from the heat and allow to settle for 5 mins before serving.

Chinese Fusion Vegetable Curry

Once you have prepared your curry sauce, shop bought or homemade, making this dish is so very quick and simple; deliciously satisfying too. I of for one knocked this up in less than 30 minutes on a Sunday morning to take over to my in-laws for lunch where my father-in-law had prepared his awesome egg fried rice special πŸ™‚

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves: 4

Chinese Veg Curry

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 12-15 fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 read pepper, chopped into chunks
  • 1 medium onion, cut into chunks)
  • 1 tsp mild Madras curry powder
  • 1 batch homemade curry sauce or shop bought curry paste (made up to 1 pint sauce)
  • cup water or as needed
  • salt to taste

How to cook

  1. Heat the oil over a medium flame the cook the onions until softened.
  2. Meanwhile wash the broccoli florets and drain. Place in a microwaveable bowl with one tablespoon water. Cover with cling film and pierce twice. Cook on high power for three minutes.
  3. When the onions have softened, add the brocolli and stir fry for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the mushrooms, peas and peppers. Continue to stir fry for another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Stir in the curry powder and cook for another minute.
  6. Slowly add the pre-prepared curry sauce and stir well.
  7. Cover and cook until the vegetable are cooked through with the sauce but not mushy.
  8. Add a little water if the sauce appears to be too thick and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  9. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Serve with simple Jasmine Rice or Egg Fried Rice.