Indian delights: Sweet and sour toor dal

November 3, 2013

Sweet and Sour Toor Dal

Rounding out our Indian meal, we definitely cannot forget to include a dal, or lentil dish, on our plate. Dal is a staple at the South Indian table, bringing a good dose of digestible protein to the vegetarian cuisine. While I’m sure there are millions upon millions of recipes and variations for dal – just the types of lentils alone: toor dal, urid dal, moong dal, masoor dal, and I could go on and on and on, not to mention that every cook has their own unique spice blend – I decided to share this recipe for a sweet and sour toor dal because I found it to be rather unique. When I say sweet and sour, I don’t mean like your local Chinese joint’s chicken; it’s a much more subtle flavor. While I made a special trip to the Indian grocery to pick up kokum, an acidic, dried fruit, upon opening the package it immediately reminded me of pomegranate, which makes a nice substitute in this recipe if you don’t have a local Indian grocer to frequent.

And that’s how this South Indian meal becomes complete. A couple of vegetarian dishes like poriyal, bhindi masala, green bean bhaji, or some masala potatoes, basmati rice, a bit of dal, a little Indian pickle (which you can buy, or I might post my favorite mango pickle here soon) and maybe some raita or yogurt to cool things down, and you have a veritable feast! (more…)

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Indian delights: Green bean poriyal

October 27, 2013

Green Bean Poriyal

If you haven’t caught wind of the theme, this week it’s definitely all about the Indian food as we lead up to Diwali. Earlier this week I shared my all-time favorite Indian recipe, bhindi masala (spiced okra in English). Today, I’m sharing another vegetable dish, green bean poriyal. You may remember, I’m not a big fan of green beans. A couple of years back my local nursery gave me a couple of free green bean plants, and I decided to make a green bean bhaji, which really turned me on to green beans for the first time in …well, ever. Fast forward a couple of years and I’m still growing green beans, and I decided I needed to find a different way to prepare them. So I tried poriyal, which I’ve had at my mother-in-law’s house and really loved. So long as you have some help stringing your beans (something I hate to do), this recipe is really quick and easy. It doesn’t require you to hang around too long sauteing vegetables and doesn’t really have much to chop, other than the beans. (more…)

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Indian delights: Bhindi masala

October 24, 2013

Bhindi Masala

As a kid, the only time I had tried okra was in gumbo, where I admitted it was needed as a thickener but refused to ever actually eat the stuff upon tasting it, and once fried, which I also wasn’t a fan of. So one can imagine when my now husband brought home takeout Indian food, I certainly wasn’t chomping at the bit to try the bhindi masala he picked up for himself. However, I decided to, and it was this dish that made me like okra. Strike that, it made me LOVE okra. The recipe couldn’t be simpler, so I encourage you to give it a try while there’s still okra to be had! (more…)

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Payasam Oatmeal

June 10, 2013

Payasam Oatmeal

For years I was more than a bit persnickety about my oatmeal. Cooked with water, flavored with a pat of butter and a large spoonful of brown sugar, I was a happy camper. If I really wanted to get fancy, I might have the Quaker Oats Apple Cinnamon insta-packet. This may have been born out of the fact that at the time I wasn’t a big fan of dried fruit, having lost my taste for raisins. Or it may have been that my idea of flavored oatmeal was the aforementioned insta-packets. Either way, when I first heard of people cooking their oatmeal with milk, I thought that odd and unnecessary. However, as I started to discover my breakfast needed a protein component with the carbs if I wanted to stay full for more than 30 minutes, I decided to start playing with my ingredients. Thus, payasam oatmeal was born!

Payasam is a traditional Indian dessert that just happens to be one of my favorites. Payasam is the South Indian name, so you may have heard of it as kheer, its North Indian name. It’s a rather simple dessert of rice boiled with milk, jaggery (a type of sugar), ghee, golden raisins, almonds, and a dash of cardamom. (more…)

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Using up leftovers: Vegetable Pakora

December 27, 2012

Vegetable Pakora

It always happens after the big holidays – you have a few leftovers in the refrigerator. At first you work your way through the the prepared foods, simply reheating or making sandwiches from hams and turkeys, but there’s always those extra bits of raw ingredients left over, such as excess vegetables that may not have made their way into the rich dishes you created for Christmas dinner.

Fear not! Instead of simply steaming or boiling these veggies, why don’t you add some spice to your life, making this modern take on vegetable pakora? (more…)

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