I'm not supposed to tell you that this lentil soup (dal) is healthy. Kathy says that doing so will somehow rob it of its yumminess. And it IS yummy. Addictively so. Within 24-hours of whipping up that first pot, I had to make another. A cross between Cream of Chicken and Potato Soup in its comfort-food factor, this Indian staple was an immediate family favorite and will be in your house too. Served on its own or with a full meal, it will steal the show.
Yellow Lentils (Masoor Dal) are high in both protein and fiber and this super-simple soup is a perfect way to do something nice for your body without sacrificing taste. The flavor is mild enough that you can mix it up and add or substitute your favorite flavors. Spinach instead of cilantro or a drizzle of Sriracha on top. The possibilities only end at the bottom of your bowl. And as Kathy would tell you, having gotten over the "Healthy" hurdle, don't knock it until you've tried it and licked your bowl clean. (Recipe Below)
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My mother-in-law laughs when she finds me pouring over recipe books and I tell her that I feel guilty getting caught yet again with Food P0rn. I was actually looking for something completely different in the library when I fell upon this one, but immediately the spicy chickpea curry with fresh dill leaves on the book’s cover made my mouth water. Dill is one of those herbs that I ignored for years. The very first dinner I ever cooked (at the age of fifteen) was Lemon Dill Chicken out of my mother’s Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I made it once or twice after that, during my short run as an Air Force wife and then, never again. In fact, dill disappeared almost completely from my kitchen until about a year ago, when my friend Susanne whipped up a lemon and dill cream cheese to compliment the smoked salmon she was serving. Suddenly, I fell in love with the damn dillweed all over again. Citrus and dill with fish or in French Potato Salad or even in a nice cheesy cornbread. Oh the lovely fragrant things that dill can do!
I was surprised, however, to see dill pop up in an Indian cookbook. Having long been a fan of the Garbanzo(aka chickpea) I immediately set out to whip up the recipe featured on the book’s cover, Ruta Kahate’s Chickpea Curry With Fresh Dill. Kahate’s original recipe calls for a full teaspoon of cayanne, and I made my test batch that way, which was great and spicy. I’ve halved that here, just so you can get the flavor without the extra heat, but adjust to your own taste.
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When I moved from Santa Cruz to Modesto, I had to give up my favorite Indian eateries. No more Aloo Tikki from the Royal Taj. No more Basil Eggplant courtesy of Asian Rose. In short, I had to start all over, sampling the local fare where I could find itand still, I felt somehow unsatisfied. For a while, I made do with Trader Joe’s Simmer Sauces (both the Curry and Masala sauces are tasty, thrifty and stupid-simple ways to get Indian flavors to your table) but still, I wanted more. It was at this point, that I fell upon “The Spice Merchant’s Daughter” and embarked upon the journey which my family now refers to as Jules’ Indian Obsession. The book is full of delectable dishes, but the Whole Roasted Chicken with Tamarind Butter Sauce stands out and tops my list of Unexpectedly Extravagant home-cooked cravings. There is nothing shy or subtle about these flavors. The sweetness of the marinade plays off the tang of the tamarind and each bite screams with flavor. Read the rest of this entry »