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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Indian Food, Part 1 - Marcella

I've been cooking a lot of Indian food lately, having been inspired by some Indian feasts at the home of our friends' Deepak and Matt.

We don't go out for Indian anymore, since it's generally very oily and hard for us to stomach these days. Fortunately I have a great cookbook: Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine from South India that has a lot of pretty healthy recipes, aside from the deep-fried things, desserts, and so on.

Some recipes to come after this one are: Gobi (cauliflower), Channa Masala (chickpeas) and Bhurta (eggplant) - all stuff you can get when going out for Indian, but easy to make at home. I made all of the above for a Christmas feast, with brown Basmati rice (Trader Joe's), and lots of lentil-stuffed samosas (delicious fried savory pastries) and other appetizers you can get in abundance in the frozen section of an Indian market. All very light and healthy EXCEPT the samosas - great finger food for parties but a dangerous habit to get into at home alone.

Anyway, an Indian grocery - like Laxmi Palace on Parham Rd - is a great source of spices, beans, vegetables, and fruit. You can pick up all kinds of chutneys and pappadum (lentil crackers) there cheaply too for a true Indian feast. Mangoes are way cheaper there than elsewhere, too.

Moong Dal (split mung bean soup)
I didn't measure things exactly - adjust to suit your tastes. Tastes like "exotic" split pea soup.
  • 1 cup moong dal (mung beans) - get at Ellwood Thompson's bulk section if you can't make it to an Indian grocer, or use split peas
  • about 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 an onion chopped
  • garlic and ginger, minced, or garlic and ginger paste - about 1 tsp each
  • cumin seeds, about 1/2 tsp
  • mustard seeds, about 1/2 tsp - optional
  • ~6 curry leaves (in the fridge at the Indian grocer, optional)
  • asfoetida spice (Indian grocer)
  1. In a medium pot, on medium-low to medium, heat up the oil. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes, then add remaining ingredients. Cook until mustard seeds start spluttering, taking care not to burn.
  2. Turn heat up to high and add water and moong dal (mung beans) or split peas. Bring to a boil, then turn down to medium-low, cover, and simmer until beans are soft - about 45 minutes to an hour.

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