This is a very simple and satisfying dish (sometimes called tarka dhal or tadka dhal) you see on the menu in Indian restaurants and households. There are any number of variations – normally this is made with Toor Dhal (obtained from specialist Indian stores and you would cook this in a pressure cooker as stove top method takes too long) but I have done a simple one with all the flavours using red lentils.
1 cup red lentils washed
1 thumb size fresh ginger piece chopped fine
1 large onion finely chopped
1 fresh red chilli finely chopped
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Salt to taste
½ fresh lemon
1 tablespoon coriander leaves finely chopped
Place the lentils in a large saucepan and add two and a half cups water. Add the onion, ginger, chilli and turmeric powder. Stir to combine contents of the pot and bring it to a boil. Once the water is bubbling, reduce heat and let the lentils simmer for 15 minutes stirring a couple of times so the lentils do not stick to the bottom. Once cooked stir in the salt, lemon juice and coriander leaves and set aside. Heat the ghee in a small fry pan. When hot add the cumin seeds, fry until they splutter or the seeds have opened up and the flavour is evident. While hot pour on top and serve immediately with pulao. Serves 4.
2 cups Basmati rice rinsed in a sieve and drained
1 large carrot cut into a small 1 centimetre dice
1 large onion sliced very thinly
1 cup frozen peas
½ thumb size piece of fresh ginger finely chopped
4 plump garlic cloves finely chopped
1 x 5 cm cinnamon stick cut in half
4 tablespoons ghee
Salt to taste
Take a wide saucepan with a lid preferably one with a non-stick surface. Heat ghee and add the whole spices. Fry for a minute until all the spices have opened up and the smell is evident. Then fry the onions for three minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and continue to fry for a further minute. Add the rice, carrots and fry for a couple of minutes. Add salt and three and three quarters cups of cold water from the tap. Increase heat and let the contents of the pan come up to the boil. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and cook for 12 minutes. Stir in the frozen peas and continue cooking for a further 4- 5 minutes. The key to cooking beautiful rice on stove top is to get the best quality Basmati rice you can afford and also do not stir more than once in the middle of cooking. Allow the rice to rest for ten minutes before serving hot with the Dhal or raita.
Radish / Onion Salad
5 small pink table radishes sliced thinly
2 medium red onions sliced thinly
Salt to taste
Pinch of sugar
½ teaspoon Ajwain seeds (Indian store)
Juice of one lemon
Using your hands, mix the radishes, onions, salt, sugar and ajwain seeds. Squeeze in the lemon juice and allow to pickle for at least half an hour. Serve as part of an Indian meal.
ANDHRA STYLE LEMON PICKLE
10 large, juicy lemons (Meyer)
Juice from 4 lemons
10 tablespoons salt
9 tablespoons chilli powder (I use a combination of very hot and mild Kashmiri chilli powder)
1 heaped dessertspoon full of fenugreek seeds (roasted until brown and ground to a fine powder)
10 cloves plump garlic (optional)
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
4 tablespoons vegetable oil like canola
Cut the 10 lemons into eighths or if smallish into quarters. Take a large jar and place lemons in jar. Add all the salt and shake the jar so the salt is mixed in. Set the jar aside for 24 hours. Squeeze out all the pieces (retain the juice that has collected) and you can dry the pieces in the sun or I prefer to dehydrate them in the oven at 50 degrees Celsius for about 16 hours or so. Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds – fry until the seeds are sputtering. Then add the garlic and fry for about 30 seconds. In another large mixing bowl, using a wooden spoon mix the chilli powder and roasted fenugreek powder and add the oil mixture. Add the dried lemon pieces and also the reserved juice (the one from soaking). Mix well and put all the pickle back into the jar. Allow to rest in a cupboard for a couple of days. Then give it a good mix and squeeze in juice from the four lemons. Will keep for a few months in the back of your cupboard. Serve as accompaniment to an Indian meal.