Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chana Dal with Potatoes

It's easy to find recipes that require hours at the stove, and sometimes that's exactly what I feel like doing. But most nights I cook things that come together relatively quickly and that make a lot, because leftovers are like gold around here. The dish below meets both requirements: a fairly standard curry using potatoes, chana dal (yellow split peas) and coconut milk, which are all staples in my cupboard.

This dal is quite mild and family-friendly, but you can always add some chili peppers, cayenne or a shot of hot sauce if you want to heat things up. I usually serve curries with plain or saffron rice, but go ahead and use whatever grain suits your style. Add some naan and spicy pickle, and you'll have a delicious, healthy dinner as good as anything you'll get in a restaurant, with the added bonus of being able to eat it in your pajamas.

Chana Dal with Potatoes
~ 1 tbsp. coconut oil
~ 1 tsp. black or yellow mustard seeds
~ 1 tsp. cumin seeds
~ 1 large yellow onion, diced
~ 2 tbsp. each: minced garlic, grated ginger
~ 1 tbsp. each: fenugreek powder, curry powder
~ 1 tsp. each: kosher salt, garam masala, cumin, chili powder
~ 1/2 tsp. each: asafoetida, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne
~ Dash of nutmeg
~ 4 cups cubed potatoes (I used Yukon Gold)
~ 1 28 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes, including liquid
~ 1 cup chana dal (yellow split peas)
~ 2 15 oz. cans "lite" coconut milk
~ 1/2 lb frozen spinach
~ 1 cup frozen green peas
~ 1 cup chopped, fresh cilantro

~ In a large, deep pot heat the oil and toast the mustard and cumin seeds over medium heat until they begin to pop (about 1-2 minutes; you might want to cover the pot for this part).
~ Add the onions, garlic, ginger and seasonings. Continue cooking another 5 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.
~ Add the potatoes, the chana dal, and tomatoes with their liquid; cook another few minutes.
~ Add the coconut milk, cover the pot, and bring to a boil.
~ Reduce heat to low and cook (about) 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to prevent sticking; you can add a splash of water if it looks like things are getting too thick.
~ Add the frozen spinach and peas and cook another 5 minutes.
~ Stir in the fresh cilantro and serve hot over plain basmati or saffron rice.

Saffron Rice
~ 1/2 tsp. saffron, soaked in 1.5 cups hot vegetable stock for 5-10 minutes
~ 1 cup plain unsweetened soy milk
~ 2 tbsp. Earth Balance (or oil, I just like EB here)
~ 3 scallions, thinly sliced
~ 1 tsp. kosher salt
~ 1.5 cups basmati rice, rinsed several times and soaked at least 20 minutes

_ In a saucepan, heat the EB or oil over medium heat; add the scallions, salt and saute about 3 minutes.
~ Add the rice and cook another few minutes until all the grains are coated.
~ Pour in the hot saffron/broth mixture and the soy milk.
~ Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 10-15 minutes.
~ Fluff with a fork and serve!

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