March 18, 2012

Chana Dhal or Yellow Split Peas

Please read welcome note first over there, on your right hand side ----->

As you may have noticed, as of late I've been sharing with you some vegetarian recipes. It is Lent and it is also good to come off meat every once in a while.

Tonight's recipe is from India and it is Dhal. Dhal basically means lentils. But tonight it's Chana Dhal which is yellow split peas .

I read over 20 recipes for Chana Dhal and each one gives you a different version. Some are soupy like, some are porridge like, some had certain spices, the others did was a bit of a headache, I must admit.

And since I had bought that bag of split peas a few months ago, I decided I was going to use them and do it my way.

Now online recipes have a tendency to lie a little in particular when it comes to cooking time. Some recipes said 30mn, others said 10mn...all Bullshit. If you are going to use Yellow Split Peas - Chana, you will need at least 1h.30 cooking time.

Wait, wait, you say over one hour?! Yes, a minimum of 1h30mn cooking time not preparation time. Preparation time is 10mn.

So on a Sunday, while you're sitting behind your computer, and you fancy something fragrant, tasty and spicy, indulge in Chana Dhal.

I followed the family tradition when it comes to grains. I soaked them overnight and it still took 1.h30mn and a bit. Maybe it was the kind of split peas I got and since I don't know what kind you have, let's play it safe. SOAK THEM in generous amount of water OVERNIGHT.

Let's get going shall we ?

For 2 you will need

- 200grams of Yellow Split peas or one cup of rinsed and soaked overnight in cold water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 medium size onion finely chopped
- 2 cm of FRESH ginger
- 3 cloves of Garlic
- 1/2 green small chili pepper (if you don't like it too hot, use a quarter)
- 2 tsp of Turmeric
- 1 tsp of Cumin SEEDS
- 1/2 tsp of Garam Marsala
- 1/2 tsp of red chili flakes (optional)
- 1/2 to 1 tsp of salt
- 5 branches of FRESH coriander /cilantro, leaves only.
- 1 Tbs of cooking oil (I use sunflower)
- 1 Flat Tbs of butter  (the traditional recipe uses Ghee which I hate)

*** If you don't want to use butter, use 2 Tbs of cooking oil. But Butter does give it a special flavor. And if you're not anti Butter in cooking, then discard cooking oil and use 2 TBS of Butter (which is too rancid for me) So I opted for the mix of cooking oil and butter.


- drain your soaked peas, rinse them again, place them in saucepan and add ONE liter of cold water
- bring to boil on high heat, while it is boiling, remove the white froth (important)
- then add the cinnamon stick (do not break it, you will find out why later), plus bay leaves plus GRATED ginger.
- let it boil for a couple of minutes, turn down heat to medium, partially cover, and leave it to cook until real tender. Patience because this is the time consuming bit. You can always add a little more water if you feel it's drying out, hence importance of keeping it on medium to low fire.
-  keep an eye and stir occasionally

Once your peas are cooked or about to be totally cooked start your Tarka. Tarka is basically the spice mix, we call it in Arabic Tatbileh, in India it's called Tarka.

- In a non stick frying pan, heat the cooking oil plus butter (or whatever option you settled for ***) and fry your chopped onions until soft and slightly golden, keep heat medium
- add your crushed garlic, chopped green chili and fry for one more minute
- add your turmeric, cumin seeds, red chili flakes, garam marsala  and salt and stir until you smell the fragrance of the spices. It will look like a thick paste
- remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaves from peas.
- add your Tarka paste to the peas (you can always add a little more water if necessary)
- stir well and leave it to cook for a few minutes so the peas can absorb all the flavor.
- Serve hot and top with chopped cilantro leaves.

Serve with Naan, Chapatis or Rice.

Since I had no Naan or Chapatis I used Arabic bread and gave it a Naan Twist.

Brush Arabic bread with a mix of olive oil and black cumin seeds and heat in oven. If you have some of the olive oil/black seeds mix left, add it to a cucumber yogurt salad - it goes well with the Dhal and is delicious.
Cucumber yogurt salad is basically small diced cucumber in yogurt.

Et voilà .

Enjoy !

March 14, 2012

Carrot & Ginger Soup.

Please read my welcome note first, if you are new to this blog.

If you're into different, you will love this very tasty and easy  to make soup. If you're not into Carrots or Ginger, then obviously this is not for you.

So let's get started.

For two you will need

- 4 medium size carrots, peeled, washed, and cut into small pieces
- 1 medium size potato, peeled, washed and cut into small pieces
- 1 small onion, chopped
- FRESH ginger half size of your thumb., peeled and grated.
- 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
-  the Juice of two medium size oranges. It must be FRESH orange juice
-  about 2 cups of water
- 1 cube of vegetable stock
- fresh cream ( I use half  fat) if you are a die-hard vegetarian use Soy cream
- 4 branches of cilantro, leaves only washed and chopped
- salt and pepper to taste.

- In a large saucepan, mix carrots, potato, onion, ginger and cover with water in which you would have diluted your vegetable cube.
- Add HALF of the orange juice and the cinnamon . Stir well.
- Let it boil a few minutes and then let it simmer on a medium heat, covered until all the vegetables are tender. You can add a little water so it does not dry out.
- once vegetables are cooked, put the whole thing in a blender ( I don't have a blender so I use an electrical hand blender)
- once everything is well blended put again on LOW heat, to keep it hot -  adding the rest of the orange juice, and stir well.
-add pepper and salt to your liking.

Serve it hot, by topping it with some fresh cream and minced cilantro leaves

Enjoy !

March 12, 2012

Tofu & Lentils with Curry & Coconut sauce

Hi there, been quite some time since I updated this blog. If you're new, please read my welcome note first, which basically says- every time you try out one of my recipes you are to feed one (or more) hungry person. I leave it to you how you wish to do that, either cook for them, buy them food or give them money for a meal.

Today's recipe is a vegetarian one which I prepared for dinner. As it was simmering, I was perusing some  articles and by "coincidence", I stumbled upon  a new medical study that has just been published linking the regular consumption of red meat to cancer and heart disease. So all the more reason to go at least partially vegetarian.

Now I know some of you would love to ban Tofu, in particular men. They hate Tofu. But Tofu does not need to be like rubber, you can prepare it in such a way that it could taste as good as meat.

For those who are absolutely anti-Tofu, you can skip the Tofu part and stick to the lentils.

So let's get started. Preparation time is 15mn - cooking time is about 50mn or so.

For 2 you will need :

- 100 grams of Green Lentils (rinse and soak them in cold water for at least 15mn, they will cook faster)
- 1 medium size onion
- 1 large carrot
- 2 celery sticks
- 1 tsp of ground cumin
- 1 tsp of curry (I use hot Madras, you can go for mild if you can't take spicy)
- 1 tsp of Sambal Oelek (Thai pimento sauce found in any Asian shop. Otherwise use Harissa, which is North African pimento sauce. Short of that use Red Tabasco, but it's not as nice and short of that just use ground red Chili)
- 1/2 tsp of Turmeric
- 1 tsp of fresh grated ginger (otherwise use powder)
- 1 cube of vegetable stock
- 2 cloves of garlic crushed
- 5 branches of cilantro leaves chopped
- 3 cups of water
- 1 tbs of cooking oil.
- 2 cups of coconut milk

For the Tofu if you do decide to eat Tofu. You will need :

- 200 grams of Tofu cut like pieces of mini steaks and fairly thick. (so not in chunks)
- 1 tbs of cooking oil
- 1 tsp of mixed dried herbs like Herbes de Provence.


- peel, wash carrot and dice it (the smaller the quicker it cooks)
- wash celery and cut in small pieces
- finely chop onion
- crush garlic and mince cilantro leaves.
- grate ginger

- In a non stick saucepan, heat oil, then stir fry the onions, garlic, cilantro and ginger for 1 minute
- Add drained lentils and stir for about 2 mn
- Now add your spices i.e cumin, sambal oelek, curry, turmeric and stir for another 1mn
- Add your water in which you have diluted the vegetable cube. Mix well
- Let it boil a few minutes, cover, lower heat and leave it to cook well for about 40 mn. Stirring it occasionally and make sure it does not dry out completely, hence necessity of lowering heat.


- marinate pieces of Tofu in oil and mixed herbs and leave on side.

After 40mn your lentils and vegetables should be cooked by then. Add your coconut milk and some salt to taste , stir it and leave it to cook for another 10 mn uncovered until liquid is absorbed - keep it on medium to low heat.

While the lentils in coconut milk are simmering -  in a non stick frying pan, fry your marinated Tofu, until golden. Tofu cooks very quickly.

Serve lentils hot and put the Tofu on top, decorate with some Cilantro or Parsley and a squeeze of FRESH Lemon Juice.

Bon appétit.