Tuesday, June 26, 2007


            Lentils: 1 cup (smaller lentils) or half cup (larger ones) - see below
            One large or two medium sized tomatoes (about 250 gms or more) - chopped;
            One large onion (about 250 gms or more) – chopped;
            10 - 15 green chillies – crushed in a mixer jar
            Green leaves such as spinach (about 200 gms) - chopped
            1 medium diced green raw mango (with the skin on) or six to ten gooseberries (amla) - optional
            Highly optional - A quarter cup of chopped mint leaves - when using large lentils such as whole chana (chickpeas) / red kidney beans / black-eyed peas etc to give it a northern-indian flavor
            If you are not using the raw mango or aam choor, use two tablespoons of aam choor powder or the juice of a lemon (add this in the end after the cooking is done)
            4 tablespoons of grounded roasted peanuts or sesame seeds (optional - add this to the daal after the cooking is done)

- Take one cup of lentils such as toor daal (pigeon peas) or whole moth beans (turkish gram) or whole mung (green gram) or whole red masoor. These smaller ones cook and mix well with the vegetables making a nice gravy - even when the lentils are not overcooked. On the other hand, if you are want to use large ones (such as whole toor or red kidney beans or whole chana (chickpeas) or black-eyed peas etc, use only a half cup of the lentils (less lentils and more vegetables). This will help make the dish contain enough gravy.

- Wash the lentils with cold water

- Take them into a pressure cooker. Add the cut vegetables. Add two cups of water. Close the lid and cook for one whistle (smaller lentils) or for 5-10 whistles (the larger the lentils).

- If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can cook the lentils in a cooking pot, but it will take a little longer to cook. You might want to soak the lentils for a couple of hours in this case. Add the cut vegetables listed above after 10 minutes or so of cooking the lentils to avoid overcooking of the vegetables. In the cooking pot, the lentils might need more than two cups of water. Keep adding water as needed. Cook until the lentils are tender and get mashed when you squeeze with your fingers.

- When cooking is done (after you open the lid of the pressure cooker), mix thoroughly to make sure the lentils and vegetables blend well.

- Also, if you used the larger lentils: take a quarter or so of the lentils into a small blender. Blend them coarsely and add it back to the rest. This will help ensure the dish has gravy texture.

- If you did not use the raw mango or gooseberries, add two tablespoons of aam choor powder now making sure it does not become lumpy. Alternatively you can add the juice of one lemon. The sourness of these things will help you reduce or eliminate the salt needed.

- Throw in some curry leaves and coriander leaves at this time as well for heavenly flavor.

- Add the grounded peanuts or sesame seeds

- Add one quarter tsp of salt (optional)

- Mix well

Some additional pointers:
Chopping or grinding the chillies helps extract and "mix" the spiciness of the chillies evenly so that the kids will have no difficulty eating it

The tomatoes and the green leaves help to add the color (and nutrition) and compensate for the missing color from Turmeric.

Always add green leafy vegetables to the grains, even to the whole ones because green leaves are highly nutritious.

Make sure the grains are not cooked to a paste. They should be cooked to tenderness (should get mashed very easily when you squeeze the lentils between your fingers) but keep their shape which makes it exquisite and colorful.

You can also add a fistful of yellow soy beans to the daal along with other vegetables. This will add more nutrition and some good fats that you and your children need.

No comments: