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A preparation of pulses (dried lentils, peas or beans), dal is a regular accompaniment with Indian meals. Dal recipes of varieties such as toor, chana, moong or masoor.

Quick Weeknight Dinners with 3 Make-Ahead Food Parts

31 Aug

Weekdays are busy times for many of us who come back from work late evening and then fix a meal. We want weeknight dinners to be easy to put together, taking little time to move from kitchen to plate. [Not counting the blessed few like Rohit's boss with the gusto to whip up a fancy meal at that hour ;-)]

One could cook loads on Sunday and freeze for the week. But that’s not so exciting, is it? So how does one reach that elusive balance between easy+quick (pre-cooked) and tasty+interesting (freshly cooked)?

Here’s a middle ground.

Make-ahead food parts. Mix and match. Embellish.

Use the Pareto Principle to your advantage: identify the steps in cooking that consume a majority time and labor, and do them beforehand. The chopping of greens. The slow-frying of spices. The boiling of dal. When the time comes to make your weeknight dinner, all that remains to be done is the remaining 20% of cooking that produces 80% of the result.

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Palak Toor Dal: Spinach with Lentils

22 Jun

Palak toor dal (spinach with yellow pigeon pea lentils) has everything your nutritionist would give the nod to – and your palate would agree. Proteins, minerals, iron, and great taste!

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Masala Chana Dal: Bengal Gram Lentil Curry

13 Sep

Chana dal (Bengal gram lentils) in a gloriously spiced curry, the kind one describes with epithets like "meal fit for a king".

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Raw Moong Dal Salad

10 Mar

My first taste of kosambari was at a friend’s wedding in Karnataka. One spoonful and I was sold. That soaked moong dal could be eaten uncooked – and that it could be delicious – was a revelation. Since then I’ve been experimenting with salad made of split pulses and an assortment of vegetables. (more…)

Masoor Dal Tadka

28 Jan

Masoor dal – the salmon-pink, hulled lentil – is a quick-cooking dal that needs neither prior soaking nor laborious cooking. My masoor dal tadka recipe rides on the pliability of masoor and has the dish ready to serve in a matter of minutes.

In case you’re wondering, tadka is the process of tempering spices in hot oil and pouring them along with the oil into a dish. I use ghee for tadka in this recipe, I love  the body and aroma that ghee adds to the earthy flavor of masoor dal. (more…)

Nenua Chana: Sponge Gourd with Chana Dal

21 Nov

Confession time: I had to Google "nenua in English" for this post. I learnt that the vegetable is called sponge gourd: the name comes from the fact that the fibrous core of the gourd is dried and used as a sponge/loofah. Not surprisingly, the Latin name of sponge gourd is Luffa cylindra.

Be that as it may, it feels stilted to call the very Bihari nenua "sponge gourd" especially since I’m blogging about a very Bihari recipe. I’ll continue calling it nenua in this post.

Gourds pair well with dal, as in the lovely ridge gourd moong dal. Nenua chana is another case in point. This is a very uncomplicated recipe with few ingredients, the perfect kind for a new cook to test their skills on.

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Chana Dal with Raisins

11 Jul

In my pre-teen years, food mentions in books would send my senses into overdrive visualizing them. The less familiar the food, the more vivid the imagined details. "Hot buttered scones", said Enid Blyton, and I pictured a  mildly sweet nimki-like snack twisted into conical shape, dripping with melted butter. "Lemonade" to my mind was a cross between nimbu pani and Limca. "Red radishes" were slender, graceful and blood red, more alluring than the humble white we had access to.

Reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel The Namesake, I realised I am not much changed today. Ashima makes "thick channa dal with swollen brown raisins" for her party. What can that be like?  Now I don’t just imagine, I cook my interpretation of it :)

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