Thursday, December 17, 2009

Khatti Dal

Hello again everyone!

Namaste and greetings and such!

Winter is upon us, and it's this time of year that we all really want something fulfilling, warming, and pleasing. Right? And what could be more fulfilling, warming, and pleasing than a Punjabi dish?

Well, there are lots of great dishes the world over. But khatti dal is one of the most wonderful that I can think of.

A pressure cooker is suggested for the preparation of this dish, but you can actually do it without; however, you will have to cook the lentils for 2-3 times as long. The use of a pressure cooker saves energy and time, and it also renders your lentils absolutely perfect for the dish.

You can get most, if not all, of these ingredients at any Indian grocery. You can also order them online; there are plenty of Indian grocers online that would be happy to ship the food to your door! And as always, feel free to substitute if you don't have something on hand.

Above all, don't panic! There's a lot left to taste here (but it's clearly noted in the recipe), and there may be some unfamiliar terms. I will, as always, let you know what these mean and what to look for. You can do it!

Khatti Dal for Catty Dolls Like Us


1C masoor dals
3C water
1 tsp ghee
2-3 dried chillies

to taste:

cumin seed (at least 1/2 tsp)
mustard seed (at least 1/2 tsp)
turmeric (at least 1/2 tsp)
red chilli powder (cayenne)
corriander leaves (cilantro)
black salt (kala namak)

1) Mix together the garlic, ginger, and kala namak with a few drops of water, to make a paste. You can use powdered garlic and ginger or minced. You will only need a pinch or two of kala namak.

2) Add the dals, water, the ginger-garlic paste, corriander leaves, chilli powder, and turmeric to the pressure cooker. Stir to blend.

3) Close cooker and bring to heat. Immediately remove from heat once one whistle sounds. This is when the vent itself (the thing with the weight on it) actually releases steam. Let the pressure go down by itself, then open the pressure cooker.

4) Put pressure cooker back on the stove on medium heat, to keep the dal mixture warm while you complete the dish.

5) In a small frypan, heat the ghee over medium to medium-high heat, careful not to let it smoke. If it smokes, discard and start again with new ghee. Break open the dried chillies and add them to the ghee. Add mustard seed to the ghee once it has heated, and let the mustard seed pop. Then add cumin seed and let it sizzle and crackle.

6) Remove the chillies from the mixture and discard them. Pour the ghee and spice mixture over the dal mixture, and blend thoroughly.

7) Serve hot, ideally with rotis, parathas, nan, or even toasted pita bread or tortilla chips.

Tips and Such:

- If you don't have ghee or don't want to use it, you can substitute oil instead. Choose an oil like grapeseed oil, since you'll need to get it to a sufficient heat to pop mustard seed. You can use any oil you like, as long as you take care in heating it so that it doesn't smoke. Smoking oil is never good news!

- If you can't get black salt, just use regular salt, to taste. Black salt will impart a greater taste to your dish, however. You may even try adding a dash of soy sauce or tamari if you wish; the richer bouquet may make up for the absence of black salt.

- If you don't have a pressure cooker, simply cook the lentils until the water has fully been absorbed and cooked, stirring so that they do not stick. Add more water wherever necessary; the final product should resemble a thick gravy. If you prefer yours thinner, add more water; however, too much water and you'll be eating it with a spoon instead of with bread.

- You can prepare the lentils and refrigerate them ahead of time, then finish the dish with the ghee garnish whenever you please. Just do steps 1-3! When you're ready to eat, simply heat up the lentils to desired consistency again, then prepare the ghee and spices mixture fresh. Combine it as in the recipe, with the lentil mixture, and serve hot.

Ingredient Info

Masoor dals are covered in a previous post, but I thought I'd mention them again here because they haven't been used in a recipe. Dal refers to a pulse, which is a split legume. Masoor dals are orange in colour and very flexible in use, plus they're delicious and one of the most nutritionally-rich kinds of dal. They're my favourite kind, and I tend to use them in every dal dish regardless!

Ghee is clarified butter, which is the most common in most Indian recipes. Several studies have indicated that ghee is healthier even than many margarines, but a little of course goes a long way, just like any kind of butter or buttery product.

Turmeric is a spice derived from a root. It's actually really useful in herbal medicine as an anti-inflammatory and is seen in many, many Indian dishes. It is also a potent dye and can impart a warm golden colour. But be warned if you use white washcloths to wash your dishes -- if you have lingering turmeric, you can come out with pretty golden washcloths afterwards!

Black salt, also called kala namak, is a kind of salt that is lower in sodium than most table salt and has a distinctly sulfuric bouquet. It is full of flavour and is used in many Indian dishes. It is named 'black salt' because in its raw form, the crystals are reddish-black. However, when ground to the powder used in cooking, it becomes a pleasant pink.

I hope you'll enjoy this super-easy and super-quick recipe. It's got massive amounts of nutrition, plus it's warming, nourishing, and feels good. It's especially comforting in these cold winter months. So I hope you'll take advantage of this dish and enjoy it while it's especially nice! In my opinion though, lentils are always delightful.

Until next time...happy cooking!

};) Dhiar <3

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Olive My Love

I know olive you are big fans of my recipes so far, and I hope everyone will let me know how they like the recipes when they try them.

If you've been paying attention to my puns (and why wouldn't you), I'll bet you've guessed what today's recipe is. That's's an olive-based recipe! It's called olive salad, and you can use it on virtually olive your meals.

Olive My Salad


1/2 can black olives (somewhere around 3 oz.)
5-10 green olives, stuffed with pimientos, or to taste
2-3 stalks celery, or to taste
handful baby-cut carrots
generous tbsp parsley
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tbsp black olive brine
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

to taste:

sea salt
black pepper
vegetarian ham substitute (optional)

1) Using a food processor, a blender, a grater, or some other method, chop everything up into very small pieces. Do not liquefy.

2) Combine all ingredients carefully in a large mixing bowl. Stir until completely blended. Add olive brine or water to reach desired consistency. The mixture should be moist, but not wet.

3) Transfer to container and store refrigerated for at least one hour before serving.

Tips and Such

- This olive salad makes a delightful sandwich. Simply spread atop a slice of bread and enjoy it open-faced! Couple with perhaps a pickle and some fresh vegetables for a filling and nutritious meal.

- You can make a mean omelette with olive salad, whether you use eggs or egg substitute! It adds plenty of flavour and nutrition.

- The salad, like salsa and other uncooked mixtures, tends to taste best after it has been allowed to rest for an hour or more in a container. This allows the flavours to mingle and settle into the ingredients. You don't have to let it rest; if you need it urgently, just mix it up and take it along with you, letting it rest in the container on the way.

- This can be used as a perfect dip for chips, if you're looking for a quick and easy vegan recipe to take to a party.

Ingredient Info

Olives are fruit of the olive tree, a magnificent plant beloved of the ancient Greeks. Everything about the tree could be used: the wood, the bark, the fruit, the oil of the was one of the most valuable plants to that civilisation. Olives come in a variety of colours and preparations, and the place where they are grown also contributes to the flavour.

Celery is a prized savoury vegetable, with extremely powerful-tasting seeds. Traditionally, in ancient Greece, celery was highly esteemed, and champion actors were awarded crowns of celery. Apparently we're hitting all the ancient Greece vegetables this time!

Baby-cut carrots are carrots -- a sweet and savoury root vegetable -- cut to be very small, bite-sized. They are convenient for many recipes since they do not require peeling and can also be enjoyed raw very easily.

Parsley is a relative of celery and actually gets its name from -- that's right! -- ancient Greek, in which it means 'rock celery'. Italian parsley is the most flavourful and less bitter, although parsley is a very subtle flavour in general. Commonly used as a garnish, it is actually an extremely nutritionally rich herb.

Balsamic vinegar is vinegar that has been aged in a certain special way. It is generally regarded as sweeter than other vinegars, and a little can go a long way in cooking and especially in garnishing.

Vegetarian ham substitute is available in a variety of styles. Many Asian supermarkets will have this in loaves (catering to Buddhist patrons) along with other meat substitutes. You can also find vegetarian ham substitutes in many Western grocery stores. If you can't find anything, use the imitation bacon pieces you can get -- make sure they're vegan, as most are -- for salad accents. You can also omit this ingredient if it's too troublesome; the olive salad has more than enough taste without it.

I hope you'll enjoy this recipe. It's a great one for when you just want to have a nice, simple meal. You can just spread some on bread and instantly you've got a sandwich. Or get some chips and you can have a party! Roast some pita bread and use it to dip, or make a creative omelette, or crepes! The choice is yours for this diverse dish.

I hope to see olive you here again for my next recipe! And do be sure to read the other entries, because they're all good...olive them.

};) Dhiar <3