Recipes: Panchratna Dal

We make dal at least thrice a week at home in various forms, both north and south Indian versions. This time I made a dal with five different types of lentils which is extremely tasty and goes very well with both rice and flatbread. Try it as a different take on your usual dal at home.

Panchratna Dal

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup toovar dal
  • 1/4 cup chana dal
  • 1/4 cup whole urad dal
  • 1/4 cup yellow moong dal
  • 1/4 cup masoor dal
  • 2 medium-sized onions, chopped finely
  • 3 medium sized tomatoes, chopped finely
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida
  • 2 green chillies, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves to garnish

Method:

  • Wash the lentils thoroughly and then soak them in hot water for about an hour.
  • Then pressure cook the lentils with just enough water to cover the lentils with the turmeric powder and pressure cook for four whistles. If you are cooking the lentils in a pan, cook until the lentils are completely cooked and broken down.
  • When the pressure in the cooker reduces, whisk the dals well so that they are completely broken down and form a creamy mass.
  • In the meantime, heat a pan and add the ghee to it. When the ghee warms, add the cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds splutter, add the asafoetida to it.
  • Now add the grated ginger and stir for a couple of minutes. When the ginger starts to brown, add the finely chopped onions and stir well and allow the onions to brown.
  • Then add the finely chopped tomatoes and the coriander powder along with some salt and cook well till the onions are soft and mushy and you can see the oil starting to leave the sides of the pan.
  • Now pour this onion-tomato mixture to the whisked lentils and let it boil on a low to medium flame. Add water to get to your desired consistency. Check for seasoning. Let the dal boil on a low to medium flame for 10-15 minutes, stirring intermittently. 
  • Crush the kasuri methi in your palms and sprinkle it over the dal and let it simmer for a couple of minutes more.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or rotis.

Note:

  • You can also add garlic to this recipe. I didn’t because I didn’t have it at home. If adding garlic, add it just before adding the ginger. You can either grate the garlic or make a paste of it. Ginger can also be made into a paste or you can also make a paste of ginger or garlic together.
  • You can also add a dash of lemon juice just before serving if you want this dish to be slightly sourish.

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Recipe: Tamatar Dahi wale Bhindi or Okra in a Tomato Yoghurt Sauce

I had some Ladies Fingers or Okra going bad and so wanted to make something with them. I wanted to make a gravy dish, but was bored of making a tomato gravy, so tried something different this time. The dish was super yummy and is a definite keeper for sure! I made this for lunch with Sweet Corn and Peas Pulao yesterday.

The recipe is slightly labour intensive, but very tasty and will be a keeper in your repertoire. It also uses more oil than I am wholly comfortable with, but is still ok as an occasional treat.

Tamatar Dahi wale Bhindi or Okra in a Tomato Yoghurt Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 kg ladies fingers or okra
  • 1 pod garlic
  • 1.5 inch piece of ginger
  • 4 medium sized onions
  • 4 medium sized tomatoes
  • 1 cup plain yoghurt
  • 4-5 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 10 pieces of cashew nuts
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1-2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp kasuri methi
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves to garnish

Method:

  • Wash and dry the ladies fingers throughly. Top and tail them and cut into 1-1.5 inch pieces. Keep aside.
  • Peel the garlic, peel and chop the ginger, slice the onions and tomatoes separately and keep everything aside.
  • Heat about 2 tsp of oil and when the oil heats up, put in the garlic and ginger in it and let it stir for a few minutes.
  • Then add the cashew nuts and stir for a couple of minutes.
  • When the cashews start to brown add in the sliced onions and sauté till it starts to brown. Then add the tomatoes plus about a teaspoon of salt and cook till the tomatoes are cooked, soft and mushy.
  • Let it cool completely and then blend into a smooth paste, using as much water as needed.
  • In the same pan, heat around 2-3 tbsp of oil and in batches cook the chopped okra. Sprinkle a pinch of salt each time. The okra should be shiny and dark green with a slight crispy taste to it. Remove the okra and keep aside.
  • In the same pan, heat the balance oil and fry the cumin and fennel seeds. When they pop, add the blended paste and cook it till the water evaporates.
  • In the meantime, beat the yoghurt well and when the paste becomes thick and oil starts to float in the edges, pour this yoghurt over the paste and stir well.
  • Now add the fried okra and stir well. Add water if needed to thin the gravy out.
  • Add in the spices now – red chilli powder, cumin powder and coriander powder along with garam masala. You should also check salt and seasoning at this point and add if anything seems less.
  • Let it boil on a low to medium flame till it comes to a rolling boil. Crush the kasuri methi in your palms and sprinkle it over the gravy. Let it cook for around five minutes and then switch off the gas.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or an Indian flatbread.

Note: If you make this in advance and are heating it up before serving, you may notice that the gravy has thickened because of the cashew nuts. In that case, thin it with some thinned yoghurt or milk.

Recipes: Chole

This recipe for Chole (or Chana Masala) is a bit different from what you typically see in recipe blogs. I have not seen something similar below and when I made this last week, I thought, I should share with you all.

This recipe was shared by our Sindhi neighbour aeons ago to my mum and I further experimented with this recipe, with this recipe the final incarnation which I have been making for years!

Chole

  • 1 cup of dry chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 2 tbsp each of chana dal and yellow moong dal
  • 4 onions, finely chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 pod garlic, chopped
  • 1-inch pieces ginger, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp amchur powder
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1-2 tsp chole (or chana masala) powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1-2 tsp red chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Coriander leaves to garnish

Method:

  • In a pressure cooker, cook the soaked chickpeas with the turmeric powder till they are soft
  • Cook the dals (chana and moong) separately and keep aside.
  • Heat the oil in a pan and when warm, add the cumin seeds and when the seeds pop, add the garlic and stir for a few seconds. Then add the ginger and saute for a few seconds.
  • Now add half the chopped onions and saute till it becomes translucent.
  • Next, add the tomatoes and a bit of salt plus the red chilli powder and let the tomatoes cook till it becomes mushy.
  • Remove from the flame and keep aside till completely cool.
  • In a blender, blend to a fine paste with the cooked dals.
  • In the pan, pour the blended paste and let it come to a boil. Add the cooked chole and let it blend together.
  • Add the tamarind paste if using, otherwise omit this step.
  • Add the amchur powder and the garam and chole masalas and check for seasoning at this point. Add more if needed.
  • Switch off the flame, garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with puris or bhature.
  • Sprinkle the remaining chopped onions on individual servings and serve hot.
  • I usually serve it with a sprinkling of chopped onions, followed by a tsp of tamarind dates chutney and some sev.

Notes:

  • You can also cook the dals along with the chole to save time. This is how I usually do it, but this time I did as above and the result was that nobody could say there was dal in the chole and the whole gravy was super thick. Doing it with dal makes the gravy thick and you don’t need to add any thickening agents to the gravy, including blending some the cooked chole as some people are wont to do.
  • I also realised that I have not yet shared the recipe for my Tamarind Dates chutney, so will do that soon. I’ll then link this recipe to that one so you have both recipes in the same page.

Vegetable Korma without Coconut

S has been asking me to make the south Indian version of Vegetable Korma for a few months now. But because of the loads of coconut which the recipe traditionally requires, I was very hesitant. I made this over the weekend with a slightly modified recipe which does not use coconut but instead relies on nuts to give it the creaminess and nuttiness which this recipe is known for.

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Vegetable Korma

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chopped mixed vegetables (I used cauliflower, carrots, potatoes and peas)
  • 1/2 cup frozen paneer, refreshed in hot water for 20-30 minutes to soften it
  • 2 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 cup cashew nuts
  • 2 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 1 bulb garlic, chopped
  • 1.5 inches ginger, chopped
  • 5-6 green chillies, chopped
  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder

Method:

  • Take 2 tsp of ghee in a large bottomed pan and when it warms, add the cumin seeds and then the fennel seeds, stirring for a couple of seconds before adding the other spice.
  • Then add the garlic, ginger and stir for a few seconds each before adding in the cashew nuts and sesame seeds. Saute them for a while and then add the green chillies and let the chillies slightly char.
  • Now add the onions and let the onions become translucent. Then add the tomatoes and a tsp of salt and let the tomatoes cook and then become mushy.
  • Switch off the gas and let it cool.
  •  When cool, blend to a smooth and creamy paste using a combination of water and yoghurt. You can also use the water in which the paneer had been soaked to add to the taste.
  • In the same pan, add the remaining ghee and fry the chopped vegetables and let them cook for a while. Add a bit of salt and some turmeric powder and cover and cook on a low to medium heat until it’s about three quarters cooked.
  • When the vegetables are done (they should be cooked, but still have a bite), add the blended paste and thin it if it’s too thick with some water, yoghurt or a combination of both until it comes to the consistency you need. Check for seasoning at this point and add more salt if needed.
  • Now add the garam masala and let it simmer for a while before garnishing with coriander leaves and serve hot with any Indian flatbread or rice.

Note: This dish is very rich and creamy, so do make it when you want to impress someone special. It also thickens up when cool, so if you plan to make it in advance, thin it when you heat it up before serving.

Recipes: Palak Paneer

I had been craving for some Palak Paneer for a few weeks now when I chanced upon this recipe on Facebook from Chef Sanjyot Keer of Your Food Lab. The recipe was intriguing enough to tempt me and when I chanced upon some spinach over the weekend, I knew it was time to try this recipe. This is very different from the usual recipe that I make which is inspired by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s recipe which is very simple. This one is slightly more complicated, but was super delicious and was a hit at home!

Palak Paneer

Ingredients:

  • 2 big bunches spinach or palak, chopped
  • 1 big cup frozen paneer (soaked in hot water for 30 minutes)
  • 1 big pod of garlic, grated or chopped finely
  • 1 large onion, cut in half and then sliced vertically
  • 4-5 green chillies
  • 1 bunch of coriander leaves
  • 1/2 cup beaten yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp black or pink salt
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Method:

  • Take a large pan and boil water in it. When the water is boiling, blanch the spinach in it for 2-3 minutes and remove. Soak it in a large bowl of iced water for a  few minutes before removing and draining the water. This preserves the lovely green colour of the spinach.
  • When the spinach is cool, blend it with the green chillies and coriander leaves into a smooth paste and keep aside.
  • In another pan, heat the ghee and when warm, add the cumin seeds and let it splutter.
  • Then add the chopped or grated garlic and let it saute for a few minutes.
  • Next, add the sliced onions and let the onions slightly brown.
  • When the onions start to brown, add the cumin powder, turmeric powder and red chilli powder and mix well. Then add the black or pink salt and season with salt.
  • Now add the beaten yoghurt and mix well. Let the masala cook well and the ghee start to leave the sides of the pan.
  • Then add the spinach puree and let the palak cook well. When the spinach starts to bubble, add the paneer pieces and let it cook for a few more minutes.
  • Now gently sprinkle the wholewheat flour a bit by bit and let it get absorbed into the gravy. This is to thicken the gravy.
  • Lastly, sprinkle the garam masala and the lemon juice and switch off the gas. Serve hot with Indian flatbreads or jeera rice.
  • You can also add fresh cream as the last step before adding the garam masala and the lemon juice as well as a  garnish. I didn’t have cream at home and omitted this step.