Welcome to Romeo's Food Lady! This blog contains recipes for delicious vegetarian food. Most of these are not recipes authored by me. Rather, this is just a compilation of great veggie food I've found from all over the place, usually tweaked just a little. It's intended to be a reference FOR ME so I don't lose great food I've found nor the changes I've made to suit my tastes, but I'm happy for you to use it, too. After more than 25 years of being a vegetarian, I know what tastes good.
Romeo's Food Lady is named after my friend and cat, Romeo. Romeo is not a vegetarian, but his Food Lady is!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Indian Dal

I loooooove eating dal at Indian restaurants.  When we lived in Hot Springs, AR, there were no Indian restaurants in town.  Since I really missed Indian food, I decided to teach myself to cook some of it.  This recipe is a sort of mash-up of advice I received for Indian cooking in general and various recipes I found for dal, especially the Dal Makhani recipe from Madhu Gadia's great cookbook New Indian Home Cooking, which is what I used to learn about cooking Indian food in Hot Springs.  Serve this with basmati rice and a side of spinach...and some garlic naan, if you can find it at your market.  I'm making dal for dinner tonight!

1/2 c. urad dal (Don't panic!  You can order this online, which is what I did in Hot Springs, or you can try your local international market.  If you can't find it, increase the amount of dried black-eyed peas and dried kidney beans to 1/2 c. each.  It'll still work!)
1/2 c. lentils
1/4 c. dry black-eyed peas
1/4 c. dry kidney beans
2 t. salt
1 t. turmeric
2 T. fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
3 T. canola oil
1 t. cumin seeds
2 small onions, chopped
1 T. ground coriander
1 t. garam masala (either make this homemade from a recipe you find yourself, or buy it premade at the store.  I've seen a McCormick garam masala, but I can't always find it.  However, I find giant jars of it for very cheap at the international market here.)
1/2 - 1 t. cayenne pepper (optional)
2 cans chopped tomatoes (I like to use petite-diced.  Of course, you can use fresh tomatoes, too.  Canned is just so convenient.)
3/4 c. goat's milk (optional, but the dish is less creamy, of course, without it)
fresh cilantro (optional)
cooked basmati rice, to serve with the dal

Clean all the dried legumes of any foreign material and rinse it in 2-3 changes of water.  Add the salt, turmeric, and ginger to the legumes in a large stock pot and cover well with water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer 3 - 3.5 hours until the beans and water have melted together to form a creamy consistency.  (I've even been known to get at the legumes with a potato masher to speed this up.)  Add water as the legumes are cooking if the mixture gets too thick.

(Don't forget to start your rice!)  Heat the oil in a medium-sized nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the cumin seeds and brown until golden, just a few seconds.  Add the onion and sauté until transluscent.  Remove from heat.

Add the onion mixture, tomatoes, garam masala, coriander, and cayenne pepper and goat's milk, if using, to the legume mixture.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat back to a simmer.  Cook for 10-15 minutes, or to desired consistency.  Serve over rice and garnish with fresh cilantro, if using.

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