“Vindaloo and extra spicy please”. Those were my words as we would call up to our neighbors who owned an Indian restaurant by our summer house. They spoiled us and made whatever we wanted.. to order! I was always a fan of the spices and dipping sauces. The rest was a delicious mystery to me. Now that I am vegan though, I have more interest in learning tips of the cuisine as I try to meet my daily and weekly goals for beans, peas and lentils. Now that I mention it.. that is exactly what I ended up experimenting with as I learned to prepare Dahl. Still I would like to know.. which is it? Beans, peas or lentils?
Beyond excited, I had the pleasure of watching some authentic Dahl being prepared by my girlfriend’s Mom. I watched, I ate, and I of course then later preceded to cook and blog it myself via FaceTime. I’m not quite sure which of my three attempts worked. They were all different and all kinda Dahlicious! My girlfriend’s Mom made everything look so easy. Not with me, it’s more of an ordeal and experimentation.
First things first.. what lentil am I using? This was a fun topic because I think I kept getting it wrong although I certainly didn’t mind eating each creation. My mentor here is from Singapore although her heritage goes back to Punjab. I’d say the style of cooking therefore has many influences. First she told me it’s the small round green lentil. That was the first mission and perhaps mistake on
my part although there is no such thing in the process of learning. I found what appeared to be spanish green lentils (Goya)- small and round not the flat kind. It looked similar to me and I really did a great job with the first attempt. I knew it wasn’t the lentil she used though. Next up, I found a package of light colored lentils labeled Indian dalh from a small Indian shop in Woodstock. These looked a bit similar to split peas and in the end, although this batch came our quite flavorful, it did taste like split peas and actually looked like rice. I forgot to smash it up- my bad! Now determined because my girlfriend keeps saying I didn’t have the right lentil- I head over to Patel Brothers in Flushing, NY and bought up a whole bunch of goodies. Among them, were the biggest bag of Moong beans I could find and they had three different sizes. That’s the one! She kept saying Mung bean but it’s not the same as the Chinese Mung bean (but close enough). I was so limited in my bean thinking prior to this learning experience but now I am happy to see so many varieties. Now when people ask me what I eat, I can go on and on!
Moral of the story:
(1) get the bean right!
(2) indulge in the spices
(3) don’t forget the chilies
(4) chop finely
(6) butter is not vegan!
Let’s do this:
By the way, I bought a roti maker. Well, it’s a cute pan to lightly warm up the roti also called chipati. I am a dipper so that’s the best part! I love my roti warmer! I am going to use it soon to make injera too, which is Ethiopian flatbread made from teff flour. That was my buy of the day. It’s the little things in life that make me happy. The roti was unbelievably delicious and it wasn’t even from scratch but I promise to learn that part on my next visit.
The lentil part
2 cups of lentils (Moong beans)
8 cups of water (4:1 ratio); I use more like a 6:1 water ratio to bean so that when I combine the beans and sauce there is still a little liquid to allow for a longer sauté and blend of the flavors together
Sea salt and a few dashes of spices
Let boil and simmer for about 45 minutes
Start smushing up the beans as it’s 3/4 finished cooking
I’m Italian so I call it sauce although I’m sure there is another name for this. In a separate pan, sauté the following:
(I chop all these finely or use a food processor)
After 10 minutes or so, I add some water and 2 large tablespoons of tomato sauce. I tend to use even more sometimes.
Spices- sea salt, pepper, cumin, turmeric, garam masala & coriander as desired
Add the sauce part to the lentils when they are almost finished absorbing all of the water. Let that simmer together so that the flavors can blend. Here is where I add the vegan butter but it’s not totally necessary.
Put a drop of coconut oil or vegan butter on the pan and let the roti get warm and light toasted on both sides. Be careful – it gets hot!
Homemade hot chili sauce
My girlfriend’s Mom is also big on chilies and always keeps a jar of hot chili sauce in the refrigerator. I have incorporated this as well although I use different chilies each time based on what’s available. Today was medium green chilies- whoa hot! I filled my mini food processor with the chilies, garlic, olive oil, juice from 2 lemons and a pinch of sugar.
Lentils and beans are a hearty and healthy vegetarian/ vegan protein- enjoy! I have learned that there are many ways to prepare Dahl so have fun with it!