Monday, March 27, 2006

ARF/5-a-Day Tuesday #13 - Dal with vegetables

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.


Shalini said...

oh! I had some baby potatoes and baby carrots, if u had had them instead of me, this would have looked great! This still does look BEAUTIFUL and HEALTHY...

Anonymous said...

Are baby turnips commonly available in UK? I have always wanted to try those, but has no luck finding them.

Anonymous said...

Wow Shammi, i can almost feel each part of my body rejuvenating with new energy looking at the pics alone. I'm definitely making this.

Anonymous said...

Oh my!! my eyes, my eyes!! (shielding eyes as I look at the monitor)

Shammi, that looks wonderful and healthy!!

what you have there is called a "broccoflower" in these parts. It is a cross between a broccoli and a cauliflower - quite delicious and yes, known for its characteristic fractal pattern.

Check out


Mika said...

wow, healthy and it looks colorful. I especially love the all-white baby turnips...

Luv2cook said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Luv2cook said...


Cool.I recently discovered that ANY vegetable can be added to dals. Since then I have been trying all kinds of veggies. Your version of the masala sounds yummy!

I love brocolliflower that SH mentioned. I like it better than regular cauliflower :).

PS: Sorry. I messed up my post earlier. So had to delete it.

Shammi said...

Gini, I dont get baby turnips here except at a slightly upscale supermarket called Sainsbury's. They have a little more variety (and are a wee bit more adventurous in the veg/fruits sections) than Tesco or Asda.

Meeta K. Wolff said...


I have been logging in on your blog every now and then and I love your posts. They are so candid, especially about the alu parathas! This recipe is definitely a killer. I am trying to get my son (who is half German) to get more into Indian food. It's my own fault really as I have been shying away from cooking Indian meals. But I will say this much, after reading your blog (and becoming a part of the blog world recently) I am slowly getting encouraged to try it out.

If anyone is interested here are my blogs:
The Daily Tiffin
What's For Lunch Honey?
The Family Buzz

Meeta K. Wolff said...

One last thing Shammi,

How many does your recipe serve?

Hugs Meeta

Anonymous said...

There is so much that we just don't know, the world of food blogging has evolved & is baffling......

shammi,this is something innovative with three dhal combo.. was attempting to scoop a spoonfull up from the pic...nah, wasn't successful ;)

Anonymous said...

Homer: Of course you can use broccoli! Or any other vegetables you like, really :)

Meeta: hi, I've been meaning to update my bloglist to include yours! :) Anyway, this dal recipe makes a generous meal for three (with rice) or could stretch to four if part of a bigger meal with more items.

Anonymous said...

Lera: So NICE to see you on here! :) I like most dal combinations except for adding split white urad dal - it becomes too gooey!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Three is perfect Shammi. I have already made a list of all the ingredients and hopefully I'll find all the stuff. I plan to make it on Saturday for lunch and then get my little jury to give it a verdict on What's For Lunch Honey? ;-) Of course I'll get back to you on that.
I am so excited to try this out.

At the moment I have some killer Muffins in the oven which I will be posting later this evening - Carrot, Walnut, Coconut and Apple Muffins! Hope you check them out.

Vaishali said...

Hi Shammi,
Thank God that I was wearing my photochromatic glasses while reading your post! :)

Great recipe there. I must try it out. We get these broccoflowers in Germany, too. To he honest, I am scared of touching them. Their points are usually too sharp for a vegetable. I think I'll settle for broccoli or cauliflower instead.

By the way, Shammi, I have started my own food blog. Please visit it when you have the time.

BDSN said...

Hey shammi...

baby turnips look so cute.they add such a punch to the photo and the brocoflower is quite new to me...Well i mean i havent seen one until today..They indeed r fractal..

Anonymous said...

This is so delicious! I took some leftovers to work with me for lunch and they were even good cold. Excellent flavors!

G said...

It is interesting to see the different names for the lentils.

G said...

It is interesting to see the different names for the lentils.

My Life As A Reluctant Housewife