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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Dal Mughlai

I had come across this dal a while ago and had bookmarked it to try later. This week seemed like a right occasion to try it when I am posting 'pigeon peas' based dishes. I am not sure about the origins of this dal or whether the dal has any connection with the royal kitchens. And if indeed it is the case, this dal seems like a precursor to modern day 'dal fry' recipe. Surprisingly this dal is not a 'rich' kind where any dairy product is used as in the case of Sultani or Nawabi dals. This is more like a simple and flavorful, every day kind of dal cooked in North Indian homes without all the spice powders. The dal goes well with rotis / rice or plain pulaos.

3/4 cup pigeon peas / toor dal
1/4 cup split chickpeas / chana dal
1 cup peeled and cubed bottle gourd / lauki
1 cup chopped tomato
1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
2 tbsp. ghee / oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. garlic paste (I didn't use it.)
1 tsp. finely chopped green chillies
1 tsp. grated ginger
3/4 cup, sliced onions
Salt to taste
2 tbsp. minced cilantro to garnish

* Clean, wash and soak dals in enough water for a couple of hours and drain.
* Add the drained dals, tomato, bottle gourd pieces, turmeric and about 2 cups of water to a pressure cooker and cook for three whistles. When the valve pressure is gone, remove the lid and mash the dal well with the back of a ladle and keep aside.
* Meanwhile, heat ghee / oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. When they start to brown, add garlic, chillies, ginger and onion. Saute on low flame until the onion turns light brown.
* Add the mashed dals and salt to the pan and cook on medium flame for 3 or 4 minutes and turn off the stove.
* Garnish with cilantro and serve warm. 

This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #101 under 'Cook 3 Side Dishes with One Ingredient' theme.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Poricha Kuzhambu

I didn't realize until I started to plan recipes this week that I had picked back to back weeks of 'side dish' themes for the blogging marathon event. I had picked gravy curries theme last week and this week, it is going to be three different side dishes prepared using one ingredient. The word 'side dishes' did not register while picking the theme and I had assumed three different dishes using one ingredient. It was curries last week and so, I decided to go with legumes this time and 'pigeon peas / lentils' aka arhar dal or toor dal is going to be my star ingredient for this week's dishes. 

The first one in the series is going to be this gravy from the Tamil Brahmin kitchens called as poricha kuzhambu. The kuzhambu is a delicious gravy made with a combination of vegetables and dal, prepared using a spice and coconut paste. This is a no onion and no garlic recipe and quite a simple one to prepare. Moong dal can also be used to make poricha kuzhambu. Vegetales like brinjals, pumpkin, drumsticks. chayote, broad beans usually go into this kuzhambu recipe but I have used mixed vegetables here.

Ingredients: (Yield 2 to 3 servings)
1/2 cup toor dal / pigeon peas
2 cups mixed vegetables (I used beans, potato, chayote and carrots.)
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
1 cup water + extra as needed
1 tsp. oil
1 tsp. skinned black gram / urad dal (optional)
1/2 tsp. black peppercorn
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 or 3 dried red chili
A fistful of grated, fresh coconut (Frozen, shredded coconut can be substituted.)
Salt to taste
Minced cilantro to garnish (optional)

Ingredients for tadka / tempering:
1 tsp. oil
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1 pinch of asafoetida powder
A sprig of curry leaves

1. Wash toor dal in two exchanges of water and drain. Pressure cook toor dal along with vegetables for 3 whistles, adding a cup of water and turmeric, When the valve pressure is gone, mash the dal well with the back of the ladle and keep aside. 
(Soak the dal in water for a couple of hours before using if the dal takes longer than 3 whistles to cook. Or the vegetables can be cooked separately.)
2. Meanwhile, heat a tsp. of oil in a small pan and add black gram, pepper corn, cumin seeds, and red chilies. When the dal starts to turn reddish, add the coconut and turn off the stove. Saute the coconut for few seconds and let the mixture cool. Grind the mixture to a thick, fine paste adding water as needed.
3. Add the ground paste and salt to the cooked dal from step 1. Add about 1/2 cup or more of water as well keeping in mind that the gravy need to be on the thicker side. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for a couple of minutes more.
4. Heat oil in a small pan for tempering and add the mustard seeds. when they start to sputter, add curry leaves and asafoetida and turn of the stove. Add this to the cooked gravy and stir well.
5. Garnish with cilantro if needed and serve warm with rice.

This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #101 under 'Cook 3 Side Dishes with One Ingredient' theme.


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Vegetable Makhanwala / Veg Makhani (No Onion, No Garlic Recipe)

Here is another rich and creamy curry as part of the 'Gravy Curry' themed marathon this week. Vegetable makhanwala or veg makhani preparation is similar to paneer butter masala and I prepared it using no onion or garlic. One of my sister in laws who is no more with us was married to a north Indian and the food prepared in her home was typically north Indian style one. I got to learn the basic variations of gravies for north Indian style curries from her daughters who are younger to me, during my initial days of cooking. The tips from them came to use for my yesterday's shahi paneer and today's curry. 

The curry is cooked using 'makhan' aka butter and hence the name veg makhani, though one can do away with oil if counting calories. Similarly cream can be omitted too if not preferring rich curries. However butter and cream enhance the flavor of the dish and the curry would be a great choice when having company. The gravy is tomato based one here and the cashews added along lend a rich base to the curry. One wouldn't notice the absence of onions in this makhani recipe and the curry tastes absolutely delicious in spite of it. This curry makes a perfect dish for those who abstain from onion or garlic. The vegetables that can go into the dish are potatoes, beans, carrots, capsicum, cauliflower and peas. I omitted cauliflower and capsicum this time. Paneer or soy chunks can be added to make it more nutritious.

3 cups mixed vegetables ( I used diced potatoes, diced carrots, beans cut into 1 inch pieces and peas.)
3 ripe red tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 inch piece of ginger
1 tbsp. cashews
1 tbsp. butter / oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds / caraway seeds
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. red chili powder or to taste
Water as needed (About 1.25 to 1.5 cups)
Salt to taste
1 tsp. crushed kasuri methi / dried fenugreek greens
3 tbsp. cream
1/2 tsp. garam masala
Minced cilantro leaves to garnish

1. Pressure cook to 2 whistles or microwave the vegetables adding enough water. Save the water used to cook the vegetables to use later.
2. Grind together tomatoes, ginger and cashew together to a fine paste. (Garlic can be added if preferred.) 
3. Heat butter / oil in a pan and add the ground tomato paste, turmeric powder and chili powder. Saute until the raw smell leaves and the fat / oil starts to leave the sides of the pan, about 10 minutes.
4. Add about 1.5 cups of water to the tomato paste. (Use the water used to cook the vegetables plus extra water if needed to make about 1.5 cups.) Cook until the gravy thickens, about 6 - 8 minutes.
5. Add the cooked vegetables, salt, kasuri methi, and garam masala to the pan and mix gently. Stir in the cream finally and mix well to combine. Turn off the stove.
6. Garnish with cilantro if preferred. Serve it with rotis / rice.

This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #101 under 'Gravy Curries' theme.


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Shahi Paneer

As the name suggests, shahi paneer is a dish fit for royals. It is a flavorful curry prepared in a rich and creamy base of nuts, onion, yogurt and cream. This mild and delicious paneer gravy curry is quite easy to prepare and makes a perfect party dish. 

3 tbsp. ghee / oil
1 cup roughly chopped onion
1 inch piece of ginger
1 - 2 garlic cloves (I didn't use any.)
1 tbsp. cashews
1 tbsp. almonds
1 tsp. cumin seeds / caraway seeds
2 cloves
1 cardamom
1 inch cinnamon piece
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1/2 cup full fat yogurt
1/2 cup water
A pinch of saffron, crushed
200 gm paneer cubes (more or less about 1 and 1/2 cups of paneer)
2 - 3 tbsp. cream (optional)

1. Heat a tbsp. ghee / oil and add onion, ginger and garlic. Fry until the onion is cooked. Let the mixture cool. Blend it to a fine paste along with almonds and cashews, adding a little water.
2. Heat 2 tbsp. ghee / oil in a pan and add cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Saute for few seconds, until the spices start to release their aroma.
3. Next add the ground onion - nut paste, turmeric, chili powder garam masala, and salt. Fry for a couple of minutes on low flame.
4. Whisk the yogurt until smooth. Lower the heat and add the whisked yogurt and water. (Add more water if needed. The mixture gets quite thickened after cooking.) Stir and let the mixture simmer until it thickens, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.
5. Add saffron, paneer cubes and whisked cream if using. Simmer for a couple of minutes more and turn off the stove. 
6. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl since the curry tends to cook further and gets quite thickened if left in the same pan.
7. Garnish with roughly chopped cilantro leaves and serve with rotis / rice.

* 1 or 2 drops of kewra water can be added finally, if preferred.
* Paneer cubes can be lightly fried before adding to the gravy if preferred.
* Vegans can substitute tofu and non dairy yogurt.  
* Tomatoes can be added to the recipe if preferred. Add them after onions are sauteed and cook until mushy.
* The nuts added to the onion paste alone makes the gravy richer. I therefore avoid using ghee and cream in this recipe if cooking for ourselves. However they enhance the flavor of the dish.

This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #101 under 'Gravy Curries' theme.