Category Archives: Pulses & Beans

Mixed Dal

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I looked up the word “comfort” in thesaurus, something that I often do when writing. It suggests me words that were in my vocabulary, but at that moment, not in my mind. So thesaurus comes up with words like “contentment, pleasure, happiness, complacency, warmth, satisfaction, restfulness, snugness” among many others. And then my mind strays…

The words on my laptop screen blurs away and I can see my dad’s crinkly eyed smile as he is trying not to laugh at something, my mom’s crushed cotton saree slightly dampened by wiping her wet hands where I had hidden my face and cried to sleep a night long ago… I see my kaka (uncle) coming to wake me up early in the morning with my bed tea…me and my BFF sharing the earphone and listening to “Viva Forever” by Spice Girls… the feel of breeze from the air-cooler in those hot Rihand days while I lay on the cool sheets with no care in the world, the ride on my dad’s blue Priya as I hug him tightly from behind, I whispering to my brother in the dark of the night  that in-spite of all his mischief-making and well-deserved reprimanding he is going for the school picnic since I saw mom putting out his clothes and backpack before switching off the lights.

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The FB ping to notify that someone had messaged me brought me back from my reverie. I looked around … the sun was shining harshly outside while inside the AC was on a full swing. I was sitting on the plush couch with my blogpage and a re-sized thesaurus window open. I realized I was trying to write something related to today’s post for comfort food.

Many years back during college days when I was visiting my parents my mom had prepared a very delicious mixed dal which she had learned from a Maharashtrian aunty. Again on one of her visits, she had made it for my lunchpack for office which my friends had loved and wanted a recipe for it. Mom had told me it contained five varieties of dal and kasoori methi etc, but since all that was gibberish for me then and I couldn’t have recognised one dal from the other, I paid no heed to it. First year into cooking and I came across this recipe from Tarla Dalal; I knew that if not the same recipe at least it might taste similar with some minor tweaks here and there. Pointless to mention it was an instant hit with my friends and was a triumphant moment when I taught this to my MIL as everyone in the family loved it too.

So when you get bored with the usual dal that you cook on a frequent basis and need a change of taste, or you are looking for a little something to go with your methi / aloo paratha other than raita or when you are organising a dinner with an elaborate menu and need just one more item which is not too heavy and yet complement the rest of the meal – I do hope you try this mixed dal recipe. As for me, I will have it anytime of the day!

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Ingredients:

Adjust the proportion of dal as you like it, what I have mentioned is according to my taste. You can also skip any of the dals if you want to. At times I skip on the last two varieties.

  • Green Whole Moong Dal – 2 tbsp
  • Black Whole Urad Dal – 1.5 tbsp
  • Toor Dal – 2 tbsp
  • Chana Dal (Cholar dal) – 1.5 tbsp
  • Split Moong Dal – 1 tbsp
  • Musur Dal – 1 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  • Onions, finely chopped – 1 medium
  • Green chillies, finely chopped – 4-5 or to taste
  • Ginger Garlic paste, optional – 1 tbsp (there are times when I don’t use this)
  • Coriander powder – 2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Red Chilli powder – optional (I use only green chillies and skip this)
  • Yogurt, well beaten – 1/4 to 1/2 cup (adjust according to your taste)
  • Tomatoes, finely chopped – 1/2 medium (Since already using yogurt do not add too much as it will become too sour.)
  • Garam Masala powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Oil / Butter / Ghee or a combination of any of these – as required
  • Salt – to taste
  • Kasoori Methi – 1 tbsp or to taste (I like the flavor it adds so use it generously, but you can adjust according to your preference)
  • Coriander Leaves, finely chopped – to garnish

Method:

  • Wash thoroughly all the dals, drain and soak in sufficient water for an hour or two. Then drain. I generally soak the whole moong, whole urad, toor dal and chana dal. Split moong dal or musur – just wash and drain them before cooking as they can easily be pressure cooked easily while for the others soaking is preferred.
  • Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Add cumin seeds, as they crackle add the finely chopped onions and green chillies with little salt. Fry them for a while till they turn translucent.
  • Add the drained dals and fry well for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add sufficient water, add turmeric, red chilli powder (if using) and coriander powder and salt to taste.
  • Cook for 3 whistles or till the dals are well cooked. Do not overcook, just till they are soft but not mashed up completely.
  • Now open the lid and check the water content. If too watery – cook till the desired consistency is reached. If water content is less add some water and bring the dal to a boil.
  • In a separate pan heat butter/ghee or oil.
  • Once hot, add the chopped tomatoes and fry well.
  • Reduce the flame and add the well beaten yogurt and mix well.
  • Put the flame on high and let it come to a boil. Sprinkle the garam masala and mix well.
  • Add this tomato-yogurt-garam masala mixture to the cooked dals and stir on medium flame for 3-4 minutes.
  • Check the salt/spice level and adjust accordingly.
  • Add the crushed Kasoori Methi to the dal and mix.
  • Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves.

Best served hot with roti or parathas.

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I am sending this recipe for “My Legume Love Affair” MLLA Event being organised by Aparna. Thie event was started by Susan – author of Well-Seasoned Cook in 2008 and now continued by Lisa – author of Lisa’s Kitchen. This is the first time I am participating in any event, so am kind of excited about it. I realized that it was high time I started venturing out in the world of flood blog events. So here goes my first one and hopefully many more to come.

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Dal Makhani / Kali Dal

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Most of you must have been wondering why I was not blogging all this while … well I was vacationing!!! Now I am back, feeling very relaxed, refreshed and happy. Had gone to New Jersey to a friend’s place from where we went to Baltimore and DC. Though my vacation lasted for 4 days I took few days before and after it to prepare for the trip and get over the hangover and longing for more such days.  Since we got our car, life seems to be so FULL! As far as my trip goes, it was awesome. Visiting the capital of this country was something I had been thinking about since I read Dan Brown’s latest novel – ‘The Lost Symbol’. The book revealed the capital of one of the most developed nations of the world to have profound historical architecture with such philosophical significance, that I had to visit it!

Coming back to the regular life and back to my journal. A comfort food for today – Dal Makhani or Kali Dal. Goes well with plain rice or roti.


Ingredients:

  • Whole black gram (sabut urad dal) – 1/2 cup
  • Red kidney beans (rajma) – 2 tablespoons
  • Onion , chopped – 1 large
  • Green chillies, slit – 2
  • Tomatoes, chopped – 2 medium
  • Ginger, chopped  or paste – 2 tsp
  • Garlic, chopped or paste – 6 cloves
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Red chilli powder – 1 tsp or to taste
  • Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 1 tsp
  • Mango powder / Amchur – 1/2 tsp
  • Whipped cream – 3 tbsp (optional, may also substitute with milk)
  • Oil – 1 tbsp
  • Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
  • Butter – 1 tbsp (may reduce the amount also)

Method:

  • Wash well and soak the Dal and Kidney Beans (Rajma) overnight in the 3 cups of water.
  • Pressure cook dal and rajma in three cups of water with salt and half the red chilli powder (add half the ginger if desired) for 3-4 whistles and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  • Open the lid and see if the dal and rajma is soft and cooked well. If not cook on low heat till they become soft.
  • Heat Oil in a pan and add cumin seeds.
  • Once they start sizzling add ginger, garlic and onion and saute till golden.
  • Add slit green chillies, tomatoes and saute on high heat.
  • Add the remaining red chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and saute till the tomatoes are cooked well.
  • Add the cooked dal and rajma along with the water and mix well. Add some water if the mixture is too thick.
  • Add  whipped cream or milk and mix well and let it cook for a 5 minutes.
  • Add garam masala powder, amchur, butter  and adjust salt.
  • Simmer on low heat  for a while till the dal is totally soft and well blended.

Goes well with plain rice or roti.


Rajma/Kidney beans curry

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The longing for home never stops, even after years of staying away from home the desire to be at home, with the known faces around, the painted walls, the familiar scent, and the all too blissful warmth of the bed and pillows is incomparable to any place in the world. No luxury is bigger than getting bed tea in mornings and home cooked meals!The other day I was longing for some comfort food… something that would bring home back to me. Though in our household, the typical comfort food would be fish curry and rice, and so would be in many of the Bengali household, yet my favorite is Rajma Chawal (Kidney beans curry and rice).

Rajma could be classified as a North Indian dish, however it is pretty much famous all over the country. My favorite combination is Rajma with Jeera rice, however it tastes fabulous with plain rice, roti, paratha and naan.

Ingredients:

  • Rajma/Kidney beans – 1 cup
  • Salt – to taste
  • Onion, grated or finely chopped – 1 medium
  • Ginger paste – 1 tsp
  • Garlic paste – 1 tsp
  • Green chillies, slit – to taste
  • Tomatoes, pureed or finely chopped – 1
  • Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 1 tsp
  • Red chilli powder – to taste
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
  • Oil – 2 tbsp

Method:

  • Wash and soak the Rajma in 3-4 cups of water overnight.
  • Pressure cook Rajma along with the water and salt till completely cooked and soft. (Add the 1/2 tsp ginger and garlic paste, green chillies in the cooker though this is optional an can be added at later stage as well).
  • Heat oil in a pan and fry the onions till they change color.
  • Add green chillies, ginger & garlic paste and saute for a minute.
  • Add tomatoes and cook well.
  • Add cumin powder, coriander powder,red chilli powder, turmeric powder and cook till the oil leaves the masala.
  • Add the cooked Rajma along with the water and add salt to taste.
  • Cook all the spices have blended well and moisture has evaporated to the desired consistency.
  • Add garam masala and mix well.
  • Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and serve hot.

Musur Dal / Red Lentil Soup

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Dal or Pulses – a very significant source of protein, is a part of the daily Indian meal. There are variety of dals (refer to the Glossary section for further reference) and lots of variations in their cooking (mainly in their tempering). I will try to highlight a few of them in this post.

Ingredients:

  • Musur Dal – 1 cup
  • Salt – to taste
  • Sugar – optional and to taste
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  • Ginger paste -
  • Garlic cloves
  • Slit green chillies
  • Tomatoes -
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4th tsp
  • Oil/Butter/Ghee – 1 tbsp + for garnishing
  • Water
  • Chopped coriander leaves – for garnishing.

Method:

Note: It is quicker and easier to use a pressure cooker to boil the lentils.

  • Wash the dal thoroughly, and pressure cook (or boil) it with 2-3 cups of water, salt, garlic cloves and green chillies. (You can add the tomatoes at this stage or later). Simmer until the dal is cooked, which in my case is 5-6 whistles, but can vary.
  • This step is called tempering. Heat oil in a pan, add the cumin seeds and let it sizzle.
  • Add ginger paste, turmeric powder, and tomatoes (if not added in the pressure cooker).
  • Add the boiled lentils and mix well.Add more water if required as per the desired consistency.
  • Check and adjust salt and add sugar if required.
  • Garnish with 1 cube of butter or 1 tsp of ghee and chopped coriander leaves.

Variations:

  • While tempering, add some onions with or without ginger and garlic. (It is not always necessary to use ginger and garlic).
  • Add a pinch of asafoetida while tempering.
  • Temper with mustard seeds, curry leaves and a pinch of asafoetida.
  • Use any other dal (lentil) or a combination of dal to get varied flavors.
  • Use Panchforon or Panch Puran for tempering.

Choley or Chana Masala or Chickpea Curry

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My favorite childhood birthday party food was Puri and chana masala (luchi and choley). As I grew up, this remained in  the list of my favorites. Have it with rice or bread (puri or paratha) it never loses its charm. A basic tip to share  for this recipe – ensure the chickpeas or the kabuli chana is boiled neither too soft nor too hard. From here on the method is pretty simple and given below.

Ingredients:

  • Chickpeas/Kabuli chana (soaked overnight) – 1 cup
  • Onions (finely chopped) – 2 medium
  • Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
  • Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
  • Tomatoes (chopped) – 1 medium
  • Cumin powder – 1 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
  • Chana/Chole masala powder – 1.5 tsp (optional)
  • Yogurt (well beaten) – 1 tbsp
  • Green chillies (chopped) – to taste and for garnishing
  • Red chilli powder -  to taste (optional)
  • Oil – 2 tbsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Sugar – to taste (optional)
  • Freshly chopped coriander leaves – for garnishing

Method:

  • Soak the chickpeas in water overnight.
  • Boil the soaked chickpeas with 3 cups of water in a pressure cooker and cook till they are soft. This may take 6-8 whistles or more. The chickpeas should not get mashed due to excess boiling.
  • Heat oil in a pan, add slit green chillies, ginger paste, garlic paste and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the onions and fry till lightly browned.
  • Add cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder and chana/chole masala; stir fry for half a minute.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, mix well and saute for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add well beaten yogurt and salt. Stir immediately and mix well.
  • Add the boiled chickpeas along with the water, mix well, cover with a lid and let it cook for a while.
  • Once done, open the lid, add sugar (to taste) if desired and let it cook for another minute till the moisture evaporates to the desired consistency.
  • Garnish with chopped chillies and coriander.