Mug nu dhal (moong bean dhal)

This is my version of a very common gujarati dhal. Whenever I eat it, I have lots and it makes me extremely happy.

The ingredients are similar to the previous recipe of kala chana.

  • 300g dried mung beans
  • 2 litres water
  • 1 large white onion – dice finely
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 3 large cloves garlic – crushed or sliced very finely
  • 2 fresh green chillies – sliced finely
  • 3 tbs groundnut oil
  • 1 large dried red chili (optional. Gives a different heat flavour. Dad swears by them)
  • 2 large dry bayleaf
  • 1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp mustard seeds (or if you feeling experimental swap these with fennel seeds which also give a lovely flavour)
  • Small pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • 7 green cardamom pods
  • 7 cloves
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp turmeric (hurder/haldi)
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp coriander cumin powder (dhana jeeru)
  • 2 tsp sugar or 1 tsp jaggery (ghaur)
  • 200g ripe red tomatoes – cut into very small dice
  • 6 curry leaves
  • 1 dried mangosteen flower (kokum)
  • Lemon juice (to taste)
  • Coriander to garnish

Preparation

  • Wash the beans thoroughly then boil in a pressure cooker with the 2 litres of water for about 25 mins. The beans should be very tender when cooked.

Cooking

  • In a large heavy based pan, over medium heat add groundnut oil. Add red chili and bayleaves and wait for them to start sizzling
  • Add cumin/mustard seeds (or fennel) and wait for the seeds to sizzle and pop
  • Add a very small pinch of  asafoetida. This is supposed to stop the spices from burning.
  • Add onions and cook until they are translucent and have started browning at edges. This can take as long as 10 mins. Don’t rush!
  • Add chilies, garlic and ginger and cook for 2 mins
  • Add the cloves, cardamon, cinammon and cook for 30 seconds
  • Add the spices and jaggery/sugar and combine thoroughly
  • Add tomatoes, mix and let tomatoes reduce slightly as you stir the mix
  • Add the curry leaves, then add the cooked beans plus all the water it cooked in
  • Add the mangosteen. This gives it a slight acidic taste
  • Stir very thoroughly and bring to the boil. Then reduce to a simmer and cook for at least 20 mins
  • Add the lemon juice
  • Check if there is enough salt for your tastes. If not, add more. If you have too much salt you can add lemon and sugar to counteract it.
  • Once cooked serve with rice or rotlis. It can even be eaten on it’s own with some yoghurt.
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Very spicy kala chana

Kala chana means black chickpeas. These are smaller and harder than the well-known white chickpeas.  In india, the kala chana are used to make gram flour. Also eaten by diabetics as they have a GI rating.

The flavour is more intense than white chickpeas, especially when cooked with spices. Tonight I may have overdone the spices as hubby was having a hard time eating it. We both had to add copious amounts of yoghurt (my favourite is Yeo Valley full fat yoghurt) but if you are daring then try it out.

I’ve put Gujarati words in brackets to help track down uncommon ingredients.

It is possible to buy dried kala chana which you would need to soak in plenty of water the night before. However, I’ve always found tinned versions give a good result so use these to save yourself some hassle and time.

1 can black chickpeas (kala chana) – rinse out any water/salt

1 medium white onion – dice roughly

1 small red onion – dice roughly

2 teaspoons grated ginger

2 large cloves garlic

2 fresh green chillies – roughly chopped

2 tbs groundnut oil

1 large dried red chili (optional. Gives a different heat flavour. Dad swears by them)

1 large dry bayleaf

1 tsp cumin

Small pinch of asafoetida

5 green cardamom pods

5 cloves

1 large cinnamon stick

1 tsp turmeric (hurder/haldi)

1 tsp chili powder (or to taste)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp coriander cumin powder (dhana jeeru)

2 large ripe red tomatoes – diced very small

6 curry leaves

1 dried mangosteen flower (kokum)

1 cup water

2 tsp sugar or 1 tsp jaggery (ghaur)

Lemon juice (to taste)

Coriander to garnish

Preparation

  • Put the onions, garlic, ginger and chilies in a blender and make a paste. If you do not have a blender, you can just chop everything finely. If you have a pestle and mortar, you can bash them in there to create the paste.
  • An optional step but does help bring out the flavour of the spices. On a hot dry pan or tawa heat the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon until you see a thin smoke come off them. This helps release their flavours. Be careful that they do not burn as they will become bitter.

Cooking

  • In a large heavy based pan, heat oil over a medium heat
  • Add bayleaf and chili. Watch for them to start to sizzle at edges. Try to ensure bayleaf does not go brown. The red chili, if you are using it, will go black as it cooks.
  • Add cumin seeds and let them sizzle
  • Add small pinch of hing if using. This stops the spices from getting over cooked.
  • Throw in onion/garlic/ginger/chili paste and cook for 5 minutes turning often to prevent sticking
  • Add cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Stir.
  • Add spices and then the tomatoes and curry leaves. Keep stirring slowly to create a nice sauce
  • Add the gaur or sugar.
  • Add the chickpeas and mix all very well.
  • Add water, mix, bring to a boil  then reduce to a simmer.
  • Let this cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  • Once cooked, add lemon juice to taste. I find about 1/2 tbs to be more than sufficient.
  • Garnish with coriander and serve with naan, rotli or rice.

Serve with plain yoghurt or cucumber raita. This helps take the heat off. As I said above, tonight we needed quite a lot of yoghurt as the dish was spicy. You can always reduce the amount of chilis and chili powder used to make it less so and I think next time, I certainly will.

Ever expanding diamond pot holder

Diamond pot holder 11"

Wooohoooo my first “Chains” posting.

I’m teaching myself to crochet..again. I learnt some basics as a teenagers but then didn’t pursue. Another of my deep regrets as by now I’d be churning out sophisticated designs.

Anyhoooo mustn’t linger on regrets.

One of my first projects  is the diamond potholder. I got the pattern from Ravelry.com which is an excellent free site for  knitters and crocheters. Here is my progress so far, about 11 inches across. It’s not square which I put down to changing tension as I get more confident. But that’s ok. It’s also going to be larger than the pattern suggest as  we want to use it two handed. I’m using a cheap 100% cotton wool in lovely shades orange which I got from Lidl. The wool is 8 strand so the crocheting is taking some time but it’s relaxing so I don’t mind.

Sod off Gordon

I have a deep dislike of the TV chef Gordon Ramsey. Not only is he rude and arrogant, he’s also famous for hating vegetarians – which from my p.o.v. is just laziness (or lack of talent). For this vegetarian, the dislike is mutual.

I was therefore shocked to see that in a list of 10 easy Indian recipes on Times Online taken from his latest book, half are vegetarian. One of these is for chappatis – OK it’s a recipe but it’s not a meal.

There are far better Indian and Vegetarian cooks than Mr Ramsay out there so I hope that this is the end to his daliance into not only vegetarian but Indian food.

Kecap manis – vegie fried rice

I like new ingredients especially vegetarian. Recently when looking for new recipes for toddlers, I came across Aussie website Fresh for kids which has lots of tasty recipes (not all vegie either!)

The very vegie stir fried rice caught my eye, firstly because it is not in fact vegie since it includes ham, but secondly because it included something new to me: Kecap manis. This is indonesian soy sauce. This gave me an excuse to go to the local Thai supermarket for the first time. A whole new world. The soy sauce was available in small bottles and very cheap.

I decided to ignore the recipe and do my own.

All vegetable ingredients chopped very finely

2 cups basmati rice. Ideally works with cold rice. But I cooked mine about half an hour beforehand and let them all cool out on a large plate.

2tbs groundnut oil

2 tsp cumin seeds

1 medium red onion

1tsp grated ginger

1/2 red pepper

1/2 green pepper

10 frozen green beans

1 cup sweetcorn

1tsp turmeric

1tsp kecap manis (more added later to taste)

1/4 tsp salt

2tsp sugar

1/2 tbs lemon juice

  • Heat oil in heavy based large frying pan
  • Add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle
  • Add the onion and let cook until browning at edges and beginning to carmelise
  • Add all the veg, turmeric and salt. Let mix cook for 5 minutes stirring often to prevent sticking
  • Add the kecap manis. As this is a new ingredient for me, I erred on side of caution with the amount.
  • When the veg are cooked, slowly fold in the rice (no need to be gentle if rice is cooked and cold)
  • Stir in sugar and mix very well.
  • To finish off, stir in lemon juice.

I ended up adding more kecap manis once I had combined the rice as I didn’t think there was enough there.

This is a very mild recipe suitable for tot (ignore that it has salt and sugar!). My husband and I ate it with a healthy dash of salt on top. We had it with chopped up sausages (mine vegie, his pork ones).

Tips: Ginger

Here are some tips on how to buy and store ginger. Fresh ginger lasts for a couple of weeks in the fridge but I find that it tends to dry out quite quickly so I prefer to freeze it.

Look for ginger that is not dried out – the best way to check is to snap a piece off. It should break cleanly and the centre should not be too fibrous. Fresh ginger is very wet too when snapped.

I store ginger in the freezer. To do this, peel the skin off. I know that some TV chefs say you don’t need to peel it, and that’s up to you but personally I prefer peeled. The skin comes off quite easily either by scraping it with a knife or even a spoon. I think grate it up to the fibrous core which I discard.

For convenience, I put the ginger into ice-cube trays. Once frozen, I take the cubes of ginger out and store in a freezer bag. I confess I’ve used frozen ginger months after storing it. I have an ice cube tray where each cube is the equivalent of a teaspoon of grated ginger.

When I need it in a recipe, I just take a cube out and pop it into the dish – it thaws when cooking very quickly.

Tot’s spinach and potato

Once of the easiest things to cook for tot and she seems to enjoy it a lot.

Ingredients:

1 tbs oil

1/4tsp cumin seeds

3 spring onions  – wash thoroughly and then chopped finely. I tend to discard much of the green part

1 small garlic clove – crushed

1 medium potato – peeled and cut into 1cm dice

1 frozen spinach bit (not sure what you call it, it’s the chunks that frozen spinach comes in) – defrost

1/5 tsp turmeric

30ml water

  • Over a low heat, heat oil and add the cumin seeds
  • When they sizzle add the spring onions and garlic and let cook until they soften. Keep an eye on it as I find that the  onions can burn really quickly
  • Add potatoes and turmeric
  • Add the spinach and stir it all so thoroughly combined
  • Add water and allow to cook until the potatoes are cooked

Serve either on its own or with some rice. If you are ok with you can add a small amount of salt at the same time as the turmeric but so far our tot has eaten it without any.