This dish is so chock-full of nutrition that I can actually feel the gleaming halo forming over my head even as I write about it... a dish that has three different dals for protein content, and seven different vegetables (different coloured ones, too) for the rest of the daily good things. I've got 5-a-day beat - seven vegetables, man! Count 'em - SEVEN! (ok, five in the pic, but I forgot the onions and tomatoes when taking the pics!)
Perhaps I should list them, so that they can be counted: Baby cauliflower (the most beautiful looking little thing - more on this later), baby turnips, a red potato, a carrot or two, bell peppers, onions and tomatoes. And garlic, if you can call it a vegetable, in which case the count goes up by one more to 8! And let's not forget my three dals: Masoor dal, tuvar dal and moong dal.
Clockwise from top right: Masoor dal, tuvar dal, moong dal
Better yet, this nourishing dal is tasty. Nothing deep fried here, and it's STILL tasty. (That halo is gleaming even more. Try not to be dazzled. Some people might find that wearing sunglasses helps.) So much so that Pete had two helpings with rice. Normally one helping of vegetarian Indian dishes (or things he's never tried before) is enough to satisfy him.
I dont quibble about that... I know from personal experience that sometimes even if you like something, you cant eat very much of it because it's not what you're used to. It's not something you were brought up eating, not something familiar from your childhood, not something you associate with comfort and home. So a little bit kind of goes a long way in satisfying your taste-buds. It does for me, at any rate. I hardly ever need to go back for seconds with any food other than Indian - my tastebuds are just not geared for more. Doesnt matter if it's pasta, pizza, stews, casseroles or anything else from any cuisine, and doesnt matter how much I like it either. Sometimes I think I could lose weight easily if only I could stick to eating non-Indian food!
Anyway, back to my recipe for the ARF event. I made up my own spice mix (garam masala) for the dal, using some of the unfamiliar spices that I'd bought. They did make a difference, but I'm certain that using regular garam masala would work just as well. I'm actually very glad that I took photos of the spices I used (and the proportions) because otherwise I'm not sure I'd have been able to remember them even to write up the recipe! Good ol' food blog!
My fractal baby cauliflower
I've got to mention the baby cauliflowers that Pete bought. He knew at once that I'd be intrigued and he was right. Such symmetry - each floret, and each little pointy bit on each floret, curled in a tight spiral, becoming smaller and smaller towards the tip, but never deviating from the symmetry. A perfect example of fractals... fractals in nature - who woulda thought it!
Recipe for: Dal with vegetables
For the dal:
2 tbsp masoor dal
2 tbsp thuvar dal
2 tbsp moong dal
3 cups mixed veg, cubed small and evenly (I used cauliflower, turnips, potatoes, bell peppers and carrots)
2 large tomatoes, chopped up fine
2 medium onions, chopped fine
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
4-5 fresh green chillies, sliced thin (optional; or adjust to taste)
2 tsp oil
Salt to taste
7-8 fresh curry leaves
2 tsp cumin seeds
For the spice mix (garam masala):
Clockwise from top left: Aniseed, stick cinnamon, fennel, tukmaria, caraway seeds Centre: Star anise (one petal)
1/2 tsp whole aniseed
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp tukmaria (basil) seeds
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1" piece cinnamon bark
1 petal of star anise
1 tsp coriander seeds
4-5 black peppercorns
1. Dry-roast all the garam masala on medium-high heat, shaking the pan or stirring it all the time, until they become fragrant and change colour. Take off the heat and let them cool. Grind to a powder, preferably using a mortar and pestle. Reserve.
2. Cook the dals in a pressure cooker with a little turmeric powder till done - this will inevitably lead to a very creamy result, which is how I like it. If you prefer your dals to retain their shape, cook them in a pan of boiling water till done to your taste.
3. Put the vegetables (bar the tomatoes and onions) in a microwaveable container with a little water, and cook till nearly done (about 7-8 minutes).
4. In a large pan, heat the oil. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for 20 seconds, then add the prepared spice mix and stir well.
5. Next add the chopped onions and fry till they begin to soften. Add the tomatoes now and cook till the tomatoes break down into a thick sauce. Add a half-cup of water if required.
6. Now add the microwaved vegetables and stir. Cook covered on medium-low for 5 minutes till done.
7. Add the cooked dal mixture along with a cup of water and stir carefully. (Dont mash the vegetables if you can help it. It's best if they retain their shape and colour.)
8. Add salt to taste and let the mixture simmer on low for 5 minutes.
9. Heat a tsp of oil in a small pan and crackle the cumin seeds and curry leaves (about 20 seconds). Pour this seasoning over the dal and serve hot over steamed rice or with chapaties.