Curry and Dal

When I visited India, many years ago now, I was blown away by the food!  Here, in the US, an Indian restaurant means a lot of heavy sauces and fatty appetizers.  It is very different over there.  Most meals consisted of white rice, one or two vegetable dishes (which are called curries, no relation to the spice), roti or paratha, and plain yogurt.  I learned quickly that Indians don’t use utensils to eat.  They tear off pieces of bread and pick their food up with that.  And if you run out of bread, or just don’t want more, you mix your dal with your rice and scoop it with your fingers.  Eating becomes a very tactile experience which my children and I embraced, much to the surprise of my Indian friends!  (one rule, only use your right hand as the left hand is considered dirty)

One of our first meals was prepared at a guest house (a little like a B&B).  It had cabbage and dal.  There was more flavor in that vegetable than I knew it could hold!  My friend, an Indian woman who had invited me to travel home with her, promised to teach me how to make it when we got home.  She did and now it one of my favorite ways to have cabbage.

A word about the curry leaf:  I have only ever found this in an Indian food market.  It’s not what Americans think of as “curry”.  American curry spice is a blend of several spices and nothing that Indians even understand! So, I offer you a picture of this leaf.

curry leaf used for Indian cooking

curry leaf used for Indian cooking

 

IMG_1236

Veni’s Cabbage Curry

  • vegetable oil
  • mustard seeds, 1 tsp
  • cumin seeds, 1 tsp
  • dry red chiles, 2
  • onion, 1 medium
  • fresh green chile, such as jalapeño, 1/2
  • fresh ginger, 1/2″
  • green cabbage, one whole
  • salt
  • turmeric, 1 tsp
  • fresh cilantro

First, heat vegetable oil at a high heat in a pan with deep sides.  Put in the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and the red chiles before the pan gets too hot so they don’t start popping and sputtering to quickly.  When the seeds are fragrant and the first mustard seeds start popping, turn the heat down to medium and add the onion, green chile, ginger and cabbage. Stir these around to coat the cabbage with the spices and oil.  Salt a bit.  Veni says if you want your vegetables to soften, add the salt at the beginning.  Cover and lower heat to medium low and cook until the cabbage is tender.  Add the turmeric and fresh cilantro.  Serve with plain yogurt and roti.

toasting the seeds

toasting the seeds

ready to simmer

ready to simmer

Gujarati Dal, Veni’s version

  • vegetable oil
  • curry leaf, small handful
  • mustard seeds, 1 tsp
  • cumin seeds, 1 tsp
  • 2 dry red chiles
  • moog dal, 2 cups dry
  • salt
  • turmeric, 1 tsp
  • cumin, powdered, 1/2 tsp
  • coriander, 1/2 tsp
  • paprika for color
  • sugar, 2 tsp

Prepare the moog dal by rinsing it in cold water, then covering with lots of water.  Bring to a boil and cook with a loose lid until the dal is creamy.

When the dal is cooked, start the rest.  Heat the vegetable oil on high heat and add the seeds, chiles and curry leaf.  Lower heat when the seeds begin to pop and add the dal.  Add water to get the consistency you desire.  Add the rest of the spices and the sugar.  Heat and serve with the curry and roti.

 

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