Meera Sodha’s Courgette & Chickpea Dal

Funny story. When I made this Dal from The Guardian’s Feast magazine last week I thought “Wow, that’s an incredibly hot dish…” and wondered about the quantities of spices inside. I eat a lot of spicy food but this was very near killing off the other flavours! I almost was about to blame the recipe before it hit me… instead of chilli powder I had put 1.5 tsp chilli FLAKES. Not only are they usually hotter, but mine are even hotter (having been acquired from a market in Bangladesh). So there you have it, Meera Sodha is most definitely not to blame and also…. be careful with that chilli powder/flake situation! I managed to eat the Dal but it did involve an extra serving of Greek yogurt to cool it down.

More Dhal Recipes: Coconut Dhal

Meera Sodha’s Courgette & Chickpea Dal

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Serves 4 | Prep 15 mins | Cook 30 mins
Easy | Vegan | Gluten and Dairy Free

You’ll need:

  • 5 tbsp rapeseed oil;
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds;
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds;
  • 750g courgettes, (about 4) halved and cut diagonally into 3cm pieces;
  • 250g vine tomatoes, chopped;
  • ½ tsp turmeric;
  • 1 ½ tsp chilli;
  • 1 ½ tsp cumin;
  • 1 ½ tsp coriander;
  • 1 ½ tsp salt;
  • 2 x 400g tins chickpeas, and their water.

Heat three tablespoons of oil in wide frying pan over a high heat, and, when very hot, add the mustard and fenugreek seeds. Let them sizzle and pop, then add the courgettes. Fry for 10 minutes, turning only now and then so as to get some good golden colour on them.

Add the tomatoes, cook for five minutes, then add the spices and salt. Mix well, then briefly take off the heat.

Tip the chickpeas and their water into the courgette pan, and put it back on the heat. Cook for a further five minutes until everything comes together, taste and adjust the seasoning if need be.

Meera Sodha recommends serving the Dal with chapatis, some lime pickle and a dollop of cold coconut yoghurt. I served mine with Naan bread and Greek Yogurt.

Original recipe by Meera Sodha from The Guardian’s Feast Sat 17 Aug issue, available online here.

Coconut Dhal

Quite a few friends have tried being vegan this year, either for Vegan January (or Veganuary) or to try something new and different at the start of this year. I also have a good number of friends trying to eat more vegetarian food. I’m building my blog on a few food principles I believe in. Diversifying the food we eat and trying new things; cooking seasonal food with local produce and expanding mine and other food palettes. I feel this recipe is true to all of those things.

A hearty Dhal can warm up any evening and it’s perfect for those last few days of Winter. It has a fantastic warming flavour and I’ve added a bit more spice to the original recipe which I got from the January 2018 issue of Waitrose Food magazine. It’s also a great vegan dish to try, whether your diet is vegan or not!

Coconut Dhal

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Serves 4 | Prep Time 15 minutes | Cook 25 minutes | Vegan, Gluten-Free

Tips: You can freeze the cooked dhal for later as well. If you are adding masala curry paste, you can make your own by using the recipe at the end of the Prawn & Coconut Curry on my blog.

You’ll need:

  • 200g red split lentils;
  • 1 enchalion shallot, finely chopped;
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped;
  • small handful dried curry leaves;
  • small cinnamon stick;
  • 2 green chillies, 1 finely chopped and 1 roughly chopped to garnish;
  • 1-2 tsp hot curry powder;
  • 1 tbsp masala curry paste (optional and if you like it hot. See tip above.);
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional and if you like it hot)
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes;
  • 400ml can coconut milk;
  • coriander leaves to garnish.
  1. Rinse the lentils well in several changes of water until it runs clear. Put the lentils and all ingredients except the coriander and the roughly chopped chilli in a medium saucepan. Add 400ml water to the pan then bring to the boil.
  2. Turn down and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. Season with a bit more salt and add more chilli flakes to taste.
  3. To serve: serve with steamed basmati rice and scatter with the coriander leaves and the roughly chopped chilli, if liked.

This is a great dish to get your protein if you are vegan or vegetarian. As written in the magazine (Waitrose food, issue 2018), rice eaten with pulses forms a “complete protein” which contains the nine essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce on their own. Meat and fish contain all nine, but other foods need to be combined in order to create a “complete protein”.

Original recipe from Waitrose Food, issue January 2018.

Carrot & Ginger Bhajis and Spiced Paneer with Dhal

Over the weekend I had two very good friends over for food and boardgames. Inspired by Glasgow’s current trend for Indian food served in “small plates”, I decided to create a similar experience at home. So I went about to preparing a menu where I wanted to feature authentic and tasty Indian food. The challenge was even bigger as one of my friends is, in fact, Indian and also has been vegetarian all of her life (until recently, anyway). So, here I was, cooking vegetarian Indian food for a semi-vegetarian Indian woman… How could that go wrong?!

Here is what our menu looked like: Squash curry; spiced paneer with dhal; carrot & ginger bhajis; M’s special Indian fried rice; and naan bread (sadly not homemade). I’m pleased to say that everything was delicious and I got the seal of approval for my Indian menu by everyone. Today, I’m uploading two of the recipes which really stood out: the spiced paneer with dhal and the carrot and ginger bhajis. The curry was also delicious, but I felt I had eaten better vegetarian curries which I would prefer to upload.

The bhajis, dhal and paneer would make a perfect accompaniment to any Indian menu, either as a side dish or a starter. I used the two recipes below for my menu which served 4 people comfortably, as part of a larger menu.

 

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Bhajis and yogurt dip, bottom left; dhal and paneer, bottom right.

 

Spiced Paneer with Lentil Dhal

Serves: 2 as a main, 4 as a side/starter; Time: 30 minutes | Easy | Vegetarian, Gluten Free

Ingredients:

  • 75g lentils (I used red, the original recipe called for green);
  • 500 ml vegetable stock;
  • 1 small onion, grated;
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped;
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric, plus a pinch extra for the paneer;
  • 1 tsp garam masala, plus a bit extra for the paneer;
  • a small bunch coriander, chopped;
  • 230-50g paneer, cut into wedges or cubes;
  • groundnut or sunflower oil;

Method:

1. Make the dhal: Put the first 7 ingredients in a pan and bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Drain any excess liquid, then stir in most of the coriander.

2. For the paneer: Toss the paneer with a little oil, seasoning and a little turmeric and garam masala. Fry in a non-stick pan until golden, turning frequently so it doesn’t burn. Spoon the lentils into a serving dish and top with the paneer. Serve with naan bread if eating as a main.

Recipe from olive magazine issue February 2016.

Carrot and Ginger Bhajis with coriander dip

This recipe uses gram flour, which is made of chickpeas. It is usually available in larger supermarkets in the ‘world’ aisle, or from specialist middle-eastern shops. If you prefer, you can use plain flour instead.

Note that it’s very important that you don’t add the carrots until the very last moment as they will make the batter too wet.

Makes: 12 bhajis | Time: 20 minutes | Easy | Vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggs;
  • 50g piece of fresh ginger, grated;
  • 100g gram flour (see note above);
  • 1/2 large red chilli, finely chopped;
  • 1 tsp garam masala;
  • 1 tsp turmeric;
  • 1 tsp ground ginger;
  • 1 lime, juiced;
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds (kalonji);
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes;
  • sunflower oil for deep frying;
  • 300g carrots, grated.

For the dip:

  • 150g yogurt;
  • 2 limes, juiced;
  • bunch fresh coriander, chopped.

Method

1. Mix all the bhaji ingredients apart from the oil and the carrots to form a thick batter. Heat a pan with a 2cm layer of oil over a medium-high heat until it starts to shimmer. Mix the carrots in the batter until well combined, then press the mix in your hands to form 12 balls.

2. Lower the balls into the hot oil with a spoon and press down lightly with the back of the spoon into a patty. Fry in batches for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon onto kitchen towel to drain off excess oil.

3. Meanwhile, mix the dip ingredients and season. Serve with the bhajis.

Recipe from Delicious magazine, issue January 2014.