Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Moong Chana Nu Daal

When it comes down to the absolute basics, there is nothing like Daal- Chawal (rice) and the glow of comfort it spreads.
On many evenings we make a full dinner of just that and call it a night. Wholesome daal provides protein and rice, just completes the meal.
When possible however, I like to bring in a small variation to the daal. A few ago, when I was ( and still am) hooked to 660 Curries, I made this dazzling daal and since then, this is a regular on the dinner table at least once a week, usually on a Thursday night when M comes home.

What attracted me to this daal is that it is a Gujarati preparation and that is by itself a testimonial. Also that it uses Moong and Chana daal, my new favorites.

Gujarati food is full of tantalizing flavors that combine hot and sweet at the same time. In my college days we would often go to a friend, who was a Gujuben (as we fondly called her) and beg of 'Maharaj' (the chef) to cook up something. He would make daal - rice & soft muslin-cloth-thin rotlis (roti/ bread) smeared generously with ghee and shaak (vegetable).
A simple meal but Maharaj had magic in his fingers, it seemed that he only had to touch an ingredient to make it tasty. The ghee tadka (tempering) for the daal would sizzle and perfume the kitchen and dining area and 10 girls, hungry as hunters would jostle one another to wash their hands and rush to the dining table. We would watch with admiration as he rolled one rotli after another, pace never varying, his hands working in perfect unison as he rolled, roasted and smeared ghee, it was like music, flowing , harmonious and above all satisfying.

This daal made me think of Maharaj and how perfect this recipe is, it was like I had some magic in my fingers... the ingredients are simple , the process uncomplicated and the taste - SUPERB!
My Mother also made this recipe ( I dictated the entire thing over the phone, thanks to Vonage World calling plan!) and urged her to try it ASAP. My Father who is a Gujarati food fan fell in love with the daal !
Source: 660 Curries

You Need:
1/2 Cup Moong Daal
1/4 Cup Chana Daal
2 Tbs Ghee (or oil)*
*Ghee is a preferable option
1Tsp Mustard seeds
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 Tsp Cayenne
1/2 tsp Asafetida
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 can (14.5 oz) Diced Tomatoes
1/4 Cup crumbled /chopped Jaggery or packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh Cilantro
10-15 Fresh Curry leaves


Wash the lentils in 3-4 changes of water. Pressure cook the lentils until they are soft ( Iyer mentions the stove top method for cooking the lentils which take about 35-40 mins, however I speed up my work and like the zero attendance method,by using the pressure cooker)

While the lentils are cooking ( in my case, while the pressure is subsiding), heat ghee in a skillet.
Add mustard seeds, after the mustard seeds have popped, remove the skillet from heat and sprinkle with Cumin seeds, salt, cayenne, asafetida and turmeric. The spices will instantly sizzle and smell aromatic. Immediately add the tomatoes with the juices, jaggery, cilantro and curry leaves.
Return the skillet to medium-high heat and simmer uncovered stirring occasionally, until ghee separates ( about 5 min)

When the legumes are cooked, coarsely mash the lentils and some of the peas with the back of the spoon and create a creamy yellow base for the curry.
Stir the sauce, cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the seasonings permeate the curry (5 mins). Serve hot.

This curry tastes great with rotlis as well.
I keep the curry chunky. Usually I puree half of the cooked daal with an immersion blender and keep the rest as is to yield a thick curry, this is a personal preference, I like biting into daal.

Wishing all readers a HAPPY and SPLENDID NEW YEAR!!!! See you then!
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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Mishti Doi

"And what are you making for dessert?" I asked
"Sweet curd" she said.
"Adding yogurt culture to sweet milk ?" I asked
" Nah re! like mishti doi, the Bengali sweet you know" she said

My mind flew back to nearly 4 years ago when M and I were in Kolkata and how we had devoured mishti doi everyday, wishing we had some more!
I greedily asked if she know how to make it and I was rewarded not just with the recipe, but the real thing too!

A couple of weeks ago, Prajakta and Rucha, two of my friends dropped in at home and Rucha had this bag in her hand that she plonked on my dining table and smiled as she opened it.
It was sweet curd or mishti doi as I like to call it.
Call it what you will, this simple dessert is rich, creamy and delicious and satisfying. It reminded me of the misti doi in Kolkata and also faintly of the shrikhand my father makes.
The fact that it takes minutes to make just adds to its other merits.

Many moons ago, Prajakta got this recipe from a Bong friend and it has been passed on to many by word -of- mouth and having once tasted it, I can vouch for its popularity and can only regret that I did not know of it earlier.
Rucha's pyrex bowl reminded me that I had to return it and more importantly, make a batch of mishti doi for M ( he was not at home that day). So this weekend I made my first bowl of mishti doi and it was M who, on tasting the first creamy spoonful said," this one is for the blog!"

Here's how I made it:

1 can Evaporated Milk
1 can Sweetened Condensed milk
Yogurt (as per Prajakta, use a can - evaporated milk canful of yogurt)*
Cardamom powder or
crushed nuts of your choice to garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a bowl mix the Evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, yogurt ( * I used about 4 tbsp. of thick home made yogurt) (edited to add: I used less yogurt only because I had a little on hand, but I do recommend you use the suggested quantity of 1 evaporated can full of yogurt)
Whisk it together till all three are well blended (I used my hand-held mixer)
Garnish with topping of choice ( I used the milk masala)
Cover the bowl tightly with aluminium foil
Place in the preheated oven and bake for 30 mins.
Switch off the oven and leave the bowl in it for about 5-6 hours
Remove the bowl from the oven and keep in the refrigerator
Serve chilled

Thank you, Prajakta and Rucha!

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Lemon Rasam

Ooooh! the evenings are cold! At least for me. And what better reason to make some *hot*rasam and sip and imagine a howling wind and rattling window panes, steady snowfall piling up to create a white world.
If you have a vivid imagination like I do, you might be sniffling and shivering and probably have the fire place going and when in reality it is about 60-63 F [and to create a bit of drama... 50-55 F outside ( and that is, in the dead of the night) and NO snowfall and the windows are holding strong. Not that, that isn't cold enough for me!]
But it feels oh-so-good to hold a steaming cup and inhale the spicy-lemony flavor.
Taking a tentative sip, I know this is what the doctor recommended!
The heat coming from the ground peppercorns and the grated ginger, the lemony zing will make you wiggle your toes and dip the spoon in the bowl immediately. You can have this with rice, but I love to sip it like a soup.

1/4 cup Toor Daal
1 cup Water
1 inch piece Ginger, peeled and grated
4 Green Chiles ( or to taste)
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
3/4 tsp Black Peppercorn
1 1/2 cup Water, extra
2 Tomatoes , quartered
1/2 tsp Turmeric
Salt to taste
Juice of 1 Lemon
Cilantro to garnish

Tempering:
2 tsp Ghee
1 tsp Asafetida
1 Red Chile halved
Few Curry Leaves

Pressure cook the Toor daal and using a blender/ hand-held blender, blend until smooth
Grind the green chiles and ginger to a paste ( I prefer to grate the ginger and chop the chile and leave it at that)
Using a spice grinder (or as in my case a coffee grinder) grind the cumin and peppercorns to a fine powder
Place the daal in a heavy saucepan. Add 1 1/2 cup(extra) water, quartered tomatoes, ground turmeric, salt to taste, ginger-chile paste. Slowly bring to a boil
Heat 2 tsp ghee.
Add mustard seeds, asafetida, halved red chile, curry leaves and pepper cumin powder
When the mustard seeds sputter, add this to the rasam
Turn off the heat and add Lemon juice
Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot (with rice)
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