Indian cuisine has never been more popular in the states than it is today. In the past there were limited places of good Indian food restaurants and even more limited when it came to Indian food take-out. Today, many home cooks are discovering how simple it can be to make authentic tasting indian cuisine right at home. Indian food is a great choice for anyone wishing to add Indian cuisine to their repertoire of cuisines.
Indian spices have a basic blend of spices that are in Indian cooking for most dishes. The spice blends are aromatic and will heighten anyones senses. Today I’m going to start with the most basic dish of Indian cuisine- Dhal, which is made from lentils. There is a huge range of lentils out there but one of my favorites is Masoor also known as red lentils. Masoor dhal is very common in Northern India. In India different regions have different styles on making dhal. My version of dhal is particularly catering towards Punjabi style dhal. Punjabi style of cooking is rich in flavor and spices. Dhal is great served best with a bed of basmati rice and cucumber, tomato and onion salad.
Boil (medium high heat) the lentils along with bay leaf, salt, and turmeric powder. Turn heat down and cover for 25-30 minuets. Cook until lentils are cooked and look more like soup consistency. Stir occasionally to prevent lentils from sticking to the bottom.
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup Masoor dhal
- 1 tbsp salt or to taste
- 1 tsp of turmeric powder
- 3 cups water
Tarka – Technique of adding spices in hot oil to release aroma and intense flavors
- 1 medium chopped onion
- 1 medium chopped tomato
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 green serrano pepper (or half depending on your heat level)
- 2 large cloves minced garlic
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 1/3 cup tomato sauce
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp red kashmir powder (or paprika)
- 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 2 curry leaves (optional)
- 1/2 stick butter or ghee or olive oil
- handful of shopped coriander leaves
when lentils are close to being done, start your “tarka” in a saute pan. Melt butter or ghee adding in cumin seeds, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Just heat through for a few seconds until you can smell the aroma, then add onion. Saute all until golden brown. Add chopped tomatoes and green chillies. cook until tomatoes have softened and smashed down. Add tomato sauce, minced ginger and garlic and cook for 8 – 10 minutes (stirring frequently). Now add the dry spices to the mixture. Do not add garam masala until later. Cook mixture until the oil has started to separate. At this point pour the mixture to the boiled lentils. Throughly stir until well mixed and cook on low heat until desired thickness like thin soup. Turn off heat and sprinkle garam masala and garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve with basmati rice & salad.
There are many versions on how to prepare basmati rice and this is my go to on making it. Follow instructions on the back of your preferred basmati rice brand. I usually prepare 1 1/2 cups of rice to feed my family of five. Soak the rice in warm water for at least 15 minutes prior to cooking the rice. In the pot of which you will cook the rice in, add half chopped onion, 1 tbsp of cumin seeds, 3-4 cardamon pods, 2-3 whole cloves, 1-2 star anise and salt to taste. Cook until onions are golden brown about 10 minutes. The smell is amazing! Clean and drain the rice throughly before adding to the onion mixture. Stir the rice in and mix throughly with onions. Add 3 cups of water, stir and bring to a boil. once it comes to boil turn heat down to medium low and place the lid on top and cook for 20 minutes.
Cucumber, Tomato and Onion salad
Simplest salad you will make in your life! Cut ingredients as shown below and arrange in a bowl or a serving plate and squeeze lemon juice all over. Sprinkle salt, black pepper, cumin powder, (chaat masala- optional and available at indian grocery stores) and chopped cilantro and done!
Enjoy and savor every bite!
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