simple red lentil dal.

Have you ever had dal? Dals are an Indian staple, and come in a variety of styles. Today I am making a simple, classic red lentil dal that is sure to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.

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Dals are a staple in Indian cuisine and there are about a million different recipes out there. This is the first dal I ever made, and I always go back to it. At its simplest, it is lentils, tomatoes, and spices. Served with rice or naan, or both!, it is extremely flavorful, comforting and nutritious.

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Dal could keep me going for weeks, and I know if you try it, you’ll feel the exact same as I do. As a bonus, dals freeze incredibly well, so make a double batch, portion it out, and you can have a comforting Indian classic in less time it’ll take you to order takeout!

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simple red lentil dal.

ingredients
1 cup split red lentils, rinsed and drained
3 cups vegetable broth or water
1 cup tomatoes, seeded (I used a combination of fresh and canned roma)
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small red onion, diced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2-1 teaspoon sea salt
cooked brown or white basmati rice, for serving
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, for serving (optional)

directions
In a 3 quart saucepan/skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat and add the onion, ginger and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes until the onion starts to become translucent and the garlic and ginger become fragrant.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the cumin, garam masala, coriander, turmeric, mustard seeds and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Stir frequently for 1-2 minutes, to allow the spices to toast and ‘bloom’ (you’ll know when they bloom as they become very fragrant and bright). Add the chopped tomatoes and lentils. Stir for a minute and then add the 3 cups of water or stock.

Increase the heat to a boil, reduce to a simmer and partially cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes, checking for the doneness of the lentils after 15. Lentils should be soft but not completely broken down. Stir and remove from heat; the dal will thicken as it stands.

Serve with steamed rice or naan if desired, and top with cilantro. Serves 4 for an entree.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

 

Indian no-butter chicken.

Before we get to the food, my thoughts and prayers are with Paris, Beirut, and all the places in the world that are affected by terrorism, crises and conflicts.

Indian food is some of my most favorite food to eat and enjoy. I used to never attempt Indian recipes, and would satisfy my cravings for Indian cuisine at some of the many excellent restaurants in my city. However. Eating out gets expensive and since I love to cook, I wanted to stretch my cooking prowess. A few years ago, I stumbled across a recipe for chicken Makhani, or butter chicken, which is a staple in Punjabi cooking. The recipe I found, courtesy of Bal Anderson, replaced the butter with plain yogurt. I decided to try it out, and it got rave reviews. I’ve never looked back, and have never made it any other way. And I can’t imagine I ever will. This is just that good.

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The mix of warming spices from turmeric, garam masala, coriander mixed with fragrant ginger, tomato paste and plain yogurt come together to make an intensely flavored and satisfying dish that comes together in less than a half an hour. I sometimes mix in cubed potatoes or cauliflower florets with the chicken while it cooks, but today I left it simple and served the chicken over brown jasmine rice. Either way, this is warm, comforting, flavorful, guilt (and gluten!) free. What could be better?

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Indian no-butter chicken.
barely adapted from Bal Anderson.

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ingredients

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 small sweet onion, diced
2 tbsp. garlic, minced (about 4 large cloves)
2 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. garam masala
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup water
brown jasmine rice for serving
naan for serving
cilantro, for garnish (optional)
scallions, thinly sliced for garnish (optional)

directions

Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons oil. Once hot, add onions, garlic and ginger and sauté, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and ginger and garlic are fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, brown sugar, cumin, garam masala, salt, turmeric and red pepper. Stir together and let cook for additional 1-2 minutes to allow the tomato and spices to “bloom” (or become toasted and fragrant). Add cubed chicken and stir to coat the chicken with the spices.

Add the water and yogurt and mix together. Once lightly simmering, partially cover and let chicken cook through, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Remove from heat and serve over rice and with naan. Garnish with scallions and/or cilantro.

Note: If the sauce hasn’t thickened to your preference, turn heat up and allow to rapidly simmer for a minute.

Serves 4.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**

 

curried lentils with sweet potatoes

It’s fitting that my first post is in the soup/stew family. Whenever I make dishes and bring some to my dad and stepmom, my stepmom always declares my food to be so “savory”! That’s probably because I live in upstate NY where it’s on the cold side of things most of the time, so I tend to always crave warm, comforting dishes. This dish is no different, except that it’s a warm, comforting dish that you can feel SO good about making and eating! It’s vegan, full of fiber, protein and vitamins thanks to the lentils, greens, sweet potatoes and spices. It’s a dish that I’ve been trying to get right for some time now, as it’s inspired by a dish that I had Restaurant Good Luck right here in town. Although my dish isn’t *exactly* the same, it’s pretty darn close if I do say so myself! This is easy enough to make on a weeknight for dinner, but elegant and interesting enough to serve for company, and I think it’ll please carnivores and herbivores alike! I hope you’ll try it, and that you love it just as much as I do!

curried lentils with sweet potatoes and greens
inspired by the curried red lentils at Restaurant Good Luck; recipe adapted from smitten kitchen 

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ingredients 

2 tbsp. olive or grape seed oil
1 medium onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 1.5-2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 tsp. garam masala
1.5 tsp. ground curry powder
2 bay leaves
1 small jalapeño pepper, finely diced (leave in seeds for more heat)
3-4 cups vegetable stock, more if needed
3 sweet potatoes (orange flesh), peeled and cut into half-inch cubes
1.5 cups red lentils
1 lb. bunch swiss chard, center ribs removed and thinly sliced (can also use kale)
2 4.5 oz cans of tomato sauce, no salt added if you can find it
1-2 tsp. sea salt to taste
1 tsp. black pepper
zest and juice of one lime
1 large handful cilantro, leaves removed and roughly chopped
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

directions

1. In a large, deep saucepan or skillet, heat oil of medium heat and add onion. Saute until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook for another 1-2 minutes until they begin to soften. Add jalapeño, curry powder, garam masala and allow to cook for another minute so that the spices can bloom and become fragrant. Add cubed sweet potatoes and stir to combine for 1-2 minutes.

2. Add in bay leaves, both cans of tomato sauce, lentils, and 3 cups of vegetable stock. Bring to boil, stir, and partially cover the pot, allowing for some steam to escape. Cook for 10-15 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally, and add additional cup of vegetable stock if lentils seem dry (I often have to add in about a cup of additional liquid). At about the 10-15 minute cooking mark, add in swiss chard (or kale) and cook another 15-20 minutes or until lentils and sweet potatoes are softened and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, add in zest and juice and the cilantro. Taste, and add in a sprinkle of cayenne if desired.

Serve as is or with garlic naan. Serves 6 as main dish. Freezes well.