Tag Archives: Indian

Week 45: Chana Dal

13 Nov

I found this great blog, Two Blue Lemons, and have been reading it nonstop. Sarah is a health coach and she shares tasty, healthy recipes and good advice for living a healthy life. Recently she posted a recipe for Chana Dal and since I’d never had it and it looked delicious I knew I’d have to give it a try.

According to wikipedia, dal is “a preparation of pulses (dried lentils, peas or beans) which have been stripped of their outer hulls and split.” Chana dal is split chickpeas without the seedcoat and is “produced by removing the outer layer of Kala chana (black chickpeas) and then splitting the kernel.” Chana dal has an amazingly low glycemic index, one of the lowest indexes of any food in fact.  The glycemic index ranks foods according to the impact they have on blood glucose levels. The glycemic index website says that “choosing foods low on the index – the ones that produce only small fluctuations in our blood glucose and insulin levels – is the secret to long-term health reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes and is the key to sustainable weight loss.”

Chana dal was easy to find at Whole Foods; it’s located right near the lentils and dried beans. The recipe was super easy – chana dal, coconut milk, an onion, garlic, fresh ginger, and water in the crockpot on high for four hours. I didn’t have fresh ginger, but I had dried. I googled it and basically read that you shouldn’t substitute dry for fresh ginger, but I didn’t feel like going out, so I went ahead and did it anyway.

As the crockpot simmered, the house smelled sweet and wonderful. When it was done we each made a heaping bowl and grabbed a piece of naan.

It was good, but kind of bland. I think that was probably because of the substitution of dried for fresh ginger. Damn! But it certainly was good,  just not super flavorful. I commented on Sarah’s blog post letting her know I tried the dish and asking if the dried vs. fresh ginger affected the taste. Also, I asked whether she’d ever tried other spices in the dish, like tumeric or cumin. She answered letting me know her thoughts:  “I agree that the fresh ginger adds a specific spice that the ground doesn’t. I’ve added a couple pinches of my favorite spices (turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala, cinnamon etc.) and that is delicious too – experiment! Another way to add a kick of flavor it to top the dal with chutney. I like spicy mango or a spicy cilantro (both sold at Indian markets among other places).”

So now I know some changes I can make next time that I’m sure will make this a very easy and tasty dish. Thanks Sarah!


Week 17: Gajar Ka Halwa

28 Apr

Today for lunch, two coworkers and I hit up Diva in Davis Square for the lunch buffet. I loved that the buffet had a ton of vegetarian options and I grabbed:

  • Gajar Aloo – Fresh carrots and potatoes cooked with herbs and spices
  • Punjabi Kadhi – Vegetarian fritters made with chick pea flour
  • Vegetable Pakoda – Fresh cut vegetables, deep fried in chick pea batter
When we were finished with lunch, my coworker brought back Gajar Ka Halwa from the buffet. It is carrot cake-ish and is flavored with milk, cardamom and nutmeg. According to Mandira over at Ahaar blog, in local sweet shops in northern India you can often see this dessert cooking in a big kadai (wok). She says, “If you were to ask for some, a mithaiwala would take a portion from the wok, mix it with some meva in a separate tawa, top it with some nuts and serve it piping hot.”
My dessert at Diva looked like this:
It wasn’t nearly as sweet as what you would expect in an American dessert. I mean, our normal desserts – even those including fruit or vegetables – are covered in sugary cinnamon mixtures or cream cheese frosting and then we top that with caramel sauce and ice cream. This was more savory, with a touch of  sweet. It was nothing like my last Indian dessert experience (thankfully), so I deem that a success 🙂

Week 12: Gulab Jamun

21 Mar

My cousin Justina suggested I try Gulab Jamun. It’s an Indian dessert that is common at weddings. According to wikipedia:

It is made of a dough consisting mainly of milk solids, traditionally, khoya, an Indian milk product (buffalo milk) is rolled into a ball together with some flour and then deep fried. It is then put into in a sugar syrup flavored with cardamom seeds and rosewater, kewra or saffron

I’m a big fan of Indian food, so when Andrew and I heard great things about Annapura in Porter Square, we thought that it’d be fun to grab dinner one night and make sure to order this dessert.

For dinner, I chose Aloo Gobi Mutter, which is cauliflower, potato, and peas cooked with tomato, onion, and Himalayan herbs. It is served with basmati rice and was delicious. We also got the biggest piece of garlic naan you’ve ever seen. (I took a picture, but it was lost forever when I traded my blackberry for my amazingly awesome new iPhone.)

So, of course, we needed to try the Gulab Jamun for dessert. Because I lost the photo I snapped, I’ll have to use this one I found online, but its pretty much just what our dessert looked like:

Now, if you recall, Gulab Jamun is made from “an Indian milk product” that I assumed would be like cheese. The menu at Annapurna said they were “condensed milk and homemade cheese balls fried in butter with syrup.” Cheese balls! Fried in butter! With syrup!

I was thinking cheese as in cheescake, cheese as in a cannoli. I was wrong. I don’t know what the problem was really, except that it wasn’t sweet, dessert cheese, but it wasn’t mozzarella stick cheese either. The consistency was all weird and it just didn’t taste good. Andrew thought the syrup was way too sweet, but I didn’t think it was too bad. I would have drank a bowl of that syrup if it meant I didn’t have to eat another one of those sticky, crumbly balls of paste.

You can only guess how this meal ended: I laughed hysterically at the table while Andrew fearlessly ate the syrupy paste balls while saying, “Pull it together, Kim. Stop laughing.” It’s a miracle he puts up with me.

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