Wednesday, January 26, 2011
On to today's recipes, Pancharatan Dal is an Indian classic and the Acorn Squash-Potato Subzi is my own invention. But they go so well together, you'd think it was a match made in food heaven.
Pancharatan translates to five jewels in Hindi, and the jewels here are those tiny, precious nuggets bursting with healthy goodness: lentils. You will usually find a variety of lentils in the Indian pantry but the five in this recipe are the ones most commonly used: Chana dal, Udad Dal, Tuvar Dal, Moong Dal and Masoor Dal.
Each of these lentils has a distinct flavor and texture that stands apart from the rest. Chana Dal is yellow, more rounded, and rather neutral-tasting which is why it is also often used to make traditional Indian sweets. Udad is tiny, with a white center covered by a black skin, and it turns smooth and slippery when cooked. Tuvar is a robust, flavorful lentil that is perhaps the base of most dal recipes. Moong is yellow and tiny and holds its texture better than most lentils. And finally Masoor, a tiny pink lentil and one of my favorites, has an earthy flavor that goes beautifully with meaty vegetables like eggplant and mushrooms.
Imagine the explosion of tastes when all these wonderful dals come together and marry a few magical spices!
As for the subzi, I had some acorn squash lying around for longer than I care to remember or admit, and I decided to add some potatoes into the mix for some texture and flavor and because I honestly believe there is no dish that potatoes cannot improve.
So here are the recipes, and stay tuned after to read my notes on plagiarism, that scourge that seems to afflict every honest blogger these days.
1/4 cup chana dal (bengal gram dal)
1/4 cup tuvar dal (yellow split peas)
1/4 cup udad dal (black gram dal)
1/4 cup moong dal
1/4 cup masoor dal
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Place the dals, bay leaves and turmeric in a pressure cooker or in a pot covered by at least two inches of water
Bring to a boil and lower the heat, then simmer for about 1/2 an hour or until the lentils have turned really soft. Add more water if needed. Cooking lentils and beans is really easy if you have a pressure cooker which takes much less time as well.
Heat 1 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp red chilli powder, like cayenne or -- if you want it hotter-- paprika
1 tbsp grated ginger
Salt to taste
Once the mixture is toasted (not burned), pour into the cooked dal. Add water if the dal is too thick and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook for five minutes.
Add 1 tablespoon of vegan butter (optional, but does really add a creamy note) and salt to taste.
Serve hot with boiled rice and subzi
Gingery Acorn Squash and Potato Curry
1 acorn squash, peeled and cubed into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium potatoes, cubed and zapped in the microwave with a couple of tablespoons of water for five minutes
1 tsp canola or other vegetable oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
12-15 curry leaves
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 dry red chillies
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp turmeric
Heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and when they pop add the onions, curry leaves and red chillies.
Saute until the onions turn translucent. Now add the turmeric and ginger and saute for another minute.
Add the cubed acorn squash, stir to coat with the spices, then add 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover with a lid and let it cook about 7-10 minutes or until the squash is fork-tender.
Add the cooked, cubed potatoes and stir well together. Add salt to taste.
Garnish with some mint or some coriander, if desired.
A blogger friend Sharmila recently wrote about plagiarism, and her post moved me enough to want to add my voice. Plagiarism affects nearly every food blogger out there: there are people who will blatantly lift photographs, steal copy, and set up "blog aggregators" that will divert your traffic to their sites.
But what also worries me is the theft of ideas. There are apparently people out there who have no qualms about tweaking someone else's recipe just a little and then passing it off as their own-- something that has happened only too often with my Vegan Challah Bread and my Mango Bread, among other recipes.
For all those out there who think it's okay to steal ideas and photographs because the anonymity of the Internet somehow makes it okay, be warned that it is not. Giving credit to fellow bloggers and cookbook authors when we use their recipes is not just the right thing to do, it is the only thing to do.