Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dhaba style dal (Smoky whole green lentils)

Who doesn't like dhaba food? And for those who do not know what are dhabas....Dhabas are roadside restaurants found all over India.They serve mostly local and fresh food which is delicious. I especially love the dal that is cooked to perfection, flavored with onions, garlic and tomatoes, sometimes fresh cream is added to it and it  has a nice smokey flavor. Usually the dal that is used is urad and rajma (kidney beans). Here I have used whole green moong and tur dal.

I adapted the recipe from Taj Magazine *Taj vegetarian Fare.


1 cup green moong dal
1/4 cup toor dal
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
2 green chillies chopped
2 tomatoes chopped
2 teaspoon grated ginger and garlic
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon clove powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
a few sprigs of cilantro for garnish
1 charcoal
1 tablespoon ghee

Soak the moong dal overnight in water. Wash the toor dal and boil it along with the soaked moong and turmeric powder. It should not become too mushy. Heat oil in a separate pan and crackle the cumin seeds and curry leaves. Add the bay leaf and black cardamom and cook for a few seconds. Now add the chopped onion and green chillies. Cook till the onions get golden brown then add the ginger garlic paste. Stir for about a minute then add the garam masala,clove powder, salt and chopped tomatoes. Once the tomatoes start wilting pour the cooked dal, along with 3/4 cup of milk. Cover and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Now to give the smoke flavor, take melted ghee in a small bowl and place it on the surface of the cooked lentils. Take a piece of charcoal and light it on fire. Now carefully transfer in the the bowl of ghee. Immediately cover the pan. The smoke from ghee and hot coal will flavor the dal.
Once the smoke disappears. Take the bowl out of the pan and discard the coal and ghee. Garnish the dal with chopped cilantro and squeeze some lemon juice if desired. Serve with rice.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Vegetables and noodle salad with spicy peanut butter dressing

 Here is another salad! This is such a versatile salad that can be made with any type of pasta, mixed up with a good serving of crunchy vegetables. I love using broccoli slaw, grated red and green cabbage, carrots, snap peas. I usually get a bag of mixed slaw and throw in some broccoli florets in it. But other vegetables like mushrooms, bean sprouts, chestnuts would be great too. What makes it really good is the  creamy, delicious and bursting with flavor peanut butter dressing. Home made peanut butter would taste great, but store bought is just fine. This salad is always a winner and I like the fact that it does not really take much time to prepare. Sometimes I prepare the peanut butter dressing in advance and when I want to make this salad I just boil the pasta, add in the veggies and just before serving mix the dressing.
Recently I made it for a potluck dinner, so I went easy on the heat and used penne pasta as it is much easier to eat than spaghetti. Here is the recipe.


4 cups boiled penne pasta
1 bag of mixed slaw (red and white cabbage, broccoli, carrots)
 bunch of chopped cilantro
4-6 green onions chopped (white and green parts)
1/4 cup roughly chopped roasted peanuts or cashews
boiled chickpeas or sauteed tofu (optional)

For the peanut butter dressing/sauce

1/4 cup tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoon maple syrup/honey or agave nectar
2 teaspoon or more sriracha sauce
3 tablespoons chili oil or peanut oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2-3 fat cloves of grated garlic
1/4 cup water (add less or more water depending on the consistency you like)
(1 tablespoon major grey mango chutney Indian mango chunda works well too)


Take the boiled pasta and add a splash of oil so that it does not stick to each other. Toss in the vegetables. To prepare the dressing just mix all the ingredients listed above. If it is too thick then add a tablespoon of hot water and stir. I do not measure everything when I cook, so feel free to add less or more of whatever suits your taste. Pour the dressing over the pasta and mix. Garnish with cilantro, green onions and roasted peanuts or cashews.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Green chickpeas and heirloom tomato salad

Made this salad last month when I found these beautiful heirloom cherry tomatoes at the local store. This is not the season for tomatoes and probably this was one of the last batches of the season that looked so tempting. I made a colorful salad mixing it up with sprouted green gram, corn and cucumber to make a filling lunch with a side of warm olive bread.

1 cup green chickpeas
1 cup mini heirloom tomatoes
1 small red onioin
2 small seedless cucumbers
3-4 mini sweet peppers
1/2 cup corn kernels (frozen)
a tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds or peanuts 
a few cilantro leaves for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste
one tablespoon olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
drizzle of honey
one clove grated garlic
red pepper flakes.


Soak green chickpeas in water for 8-10 hours. Drain the water and let them sprout.
Chop the tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, peppers and add the corn. Transfer to a bowl. Mix the ingredients for the dressing and drizzle over the salad.
Instead of sesame seed toasted crushed peanuts would taste great too. The salad can also be served on a bed of chopped lettuce, spinach or arugula leaves.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Green beans with besan (chickpea flour) dumplings

 I am all for cooking with garlic and onions but I also enjoy simple flavors of fresh vegetables with minimum seasonings. This recipe for green beans is one of them. I have added besan (chickpea flour) dumplings which makes the dish more interesting. It is seasoned with carom seeds or bishops weeds (ajwain). It compliments the flavor of green beans and is known for its digestive benefits. Carom seeds have medicinal value and are often used as a home remedy to relieve stomach ache or indigestion. I like to keep some roasted seeds mixed with black salt to chew after a heavy meal.

Here is the recipe.



2 cups chopped green beans
1 teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain) 
1teaspoon mustard seeds
1teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or red chili powder
salt to taste

For the dumplings

1/2 cup besan
1/4 teaspoon carom seeds
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
1/2 black pepper powder
1 tablespoon crushed dry fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
water to make a dough 


Heat oil in a pan and drop the mustard seeds. As soon as they pop add the carom seeds, asafoetida, turmeric powder and chili powder. Now add the chopped green beans. Add salt and mix everything well. Pour one cup water and cover.
To make the dumplings mix everything listed above and use water as required to make a stiff dough. It will be sticky so keep some oil in a bowl and dip your fingers in it while making the dough. Drop lumps of this dough in the pot along with the beans. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Check the see if the dumplings are cooked through. Just before serving add some lemon juice.