Life, death, vegetable dal

Mallika Basu - Life, death, vegetable dal

Posted 27th September 2007

vegetable-dal.jpgLife is full of surprises. Delicious is one of them.

A friend of a friend, she proclaimed at a weekday drinks soiree: “I love CHAT Magazine. The cover promises ‘Life, Death, Prize’. What more can I want?”

Deep sense of sarcasm and dark wit? I loved her instantly.

Three glasses of free, donkey’s-piss-posing-as-wine later I was doing my sales spiel for Quickindiancooking. And that’s when she dropped the lead ball.

She hates the smell of Indian spices. I mean, like seriously can’t stand the rich, warm and woody blend of aromas that fill the air when raw whole spices meet hot oil.

I was at a loss for words. And that RARELY EVER happens to me.

For the rest of the evening I thought long and hard about her problem. Indian food does have strong flavours and fragrances. I racked my brains for a winter, single gal (or bloke) friendly recipe that would fit the bill.

I came up with this. A thick, one-pot, oil-free dal cooked with heaps of healthy vegetables like cauliflower, carrots, beans, peas and tomatoes. Never mind the long list of ingredients. All you need to do is add them in stages and leave to cook.

It’s totally Delicious. I hope she agrees!

This recipe serves 4:

250 gm moong dal (skinless split mung beans)

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 inch ginger, finely chopped

1 tomato, roughly chopped

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 bay leaf

Half tsp chilli powder

Half tsp turmeric powder

Half tsp garam masala

3 cups of mixed raw vegetables, your choice from the above list

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

12 gm fresh coriander, chopped roughly

In a large pot, wash the lentils thoroughly until the water runs clean. Fill the pot half way with clean water and bring the lentils to boil over a high flame.

In about 10 minutes, the lentils will start losing their shape and combining with the water. Now add the ginger, garlic and bay leaf. Continue cooking for 10 minutes until you can’t smell the raw ginger and garlic. The water in the pot will start drying up, add water half cup at a time when it does.

Next, chuck in the tomato, onion and all the vegetables and the turmeric and chilli powder. Keep cooking the dal on high until the vegetables are done and the tomato resembles little flecks of chilli.

By this time, the lentils will be a thick and smooth dal. To finish, stir in the lemon juice, garam masala and fresh coriander.

Eat this with a hot bowl of rice or, if you can’t be bothered, some toasted pitta bread.

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