Friday, September 15, 2006

Zucchini Tomato Dal

I was surfing web the other day, looking for some information and interesting titbits about lentils and came upon Beans & Lentils - a fund of information and also lots of interesting recipes, Indian in origin. The overwhelming sense of the site is the pleasure to be had from cooking and eating beans and lentils and how, with the application of a little skill and imagination you could eat them daily for months without repetition. They are a staple in India, revered as much for their versatility and variety as for their essential goodness. It made me realise I should be looking to expand my repertoire for these legumes because I was missing out on a lot of fabulous food.

So I set off for Brick Lane to visit Taj Stores - one of the truly great food emporiums of London - where you can buy dozens of varieties of lentils and beans, as well as spices and chutneys and rice in industrial quantities. One of the specials of the week was bogoff (buy one get one for free) on 1kg packs of turmeric - I can hardly begin to imagine how to use so much. It is such a treat to shop here - the aisles are a riot of colour and perfume. I came away happy with channa dal and black eyed beans, some chappatis to reheat as well as some bombay mix for my sweetheart.

Zucchini Tomato Dal

4 tsp ghee or sunflower oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 minced green chili pepper-optional
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp panch poran - a bengali spice blend
1 tbsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 cup channa dal
4 cups water
2 cup zucchini, diced
1/2 cup ripe tomato diced
Salt to taste

In a saucepan, heat the ghee or oil. Add the onion and garlic (and minced chili pepper) and sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in the turmeric, panch poran, coriander, and pepper; cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the lentils and water and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the zucchini/tomato and cook for about 30 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender. Stir in the salt.

Serve with an Indian flat bread or flour tortilla. I also made a dish of peeled cubed cucumber and very finely sliced coriander mixed with sheeps milk yoghurt that was a great accompaniment.

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