Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dal Saag

Dal Saag, originally uploaded by Kim De.

In continuation of “Indian Week”, I tried a dal (lentil) dish.

I substituted a can of chickpeas for the dal – let me explain. Bo is all about using the pressure cooker and ONLY the pressure cooker to cook lentils. I have no prior knowledge of this piece of equipment and have no interest of doing it wrong and ending up with a yellow-shaded kitchen ceiling from a mis-hap. To keep us both happy I verified with him that I could substitute this round, bumpy bean, then moved forward.

Discouragement, thy name is Kim. Again, I was not pleased. The flavor didnt pop, the texture wasnt right, and their was nothing aromatic about this dish. I think the texture issue would be solved by using the correct legume, but why it didnt have the correct flavor or aroma is a mystery. My sweet husband said it was good. Did I mention he is sweet?

Maybe if I had only had sub-par restaurant food, I wouldnt have the bar set so high for myself. But that isnt the case. Instead I have had wonderful home cooked dishes by wonderful Indian cooks. I am very lucky! Not being one to give up, I will forge ahead. Tomorrow is a chicken dish. Then I will need a break to lick my wounds and to gather the courage to try again. Maybe in 2010.

Dal Saag (Adapted from The Food of India)

8 oz moong dal (I used 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed well)
2-3 T oil
1 t black mustard seeds
8 curry leaves
¼ t asafoetida
¼ t ground turmeric
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
1¼ inch piece of ginger, grated
2 green chilies, seeded and cut into ½ inch pieces
3½ oz English spinach leaves, roughly chopped
5 spring onions, finely chopped

Put the dal in a heavy-based saucepan, add 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the dal are soft and breaking up. The dal tend to soak up most of the liquid so you may need to add a little more. (NOTE: Since I used the canned chickpeas, I skipped this step. I rinsed the beans, added a little water and cooked on low for about 5 minutes before proceeding.)

For the final seasoning, heat the oili n a saucepan, add the mustard seeds, cover and allow to pop. Stir in curry leaves, asafoetida, turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger and chili, then pour into the cooked dal.

Stir in the spinach and spring onion and cook for about 2 minutes, or until the spinach is just cooked. Season with salt to taste.

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