Thursday, May 30, 2019

Urad Dal with Crispy Shallots

A little over a month ago I stepped on a cracked sidewalk and fractured my ankle. (I should note that I also taught both of my classes before going to the ER because 1. they were our penultimate meetings of the semester, 2. I really thought it was just twisted, and 3. that's what I'm like.) Needless to say, being injured is inconvenient and uncomfortable, and one of the many things it's impeded has been my ability to cook, since for the first couple weeks I was on crutches and couldn't stand very long. Thankfully I have a lovely, helpful partner who has taken care of pretty much everything, which includes keeping us fed

So while I have produced a few things (notably last week's Lancashire butter pie), I've mostly been confined to a kitchen chair and acting as sous chef. But this past week a cupboard inventory yielded a container of black urad dal, and I was inspired to try my hand at Dal Makhani, a North Indian dish traditionally made with butter and cream. After a little Googling I was able to conflate and tweak a few recipes to produce an extremely hearty curry that needs nothing but rice to be a complete meal, and which I hope you'll enjoy as much as we did. (NB that in addition to reducing the fat - a lot - and substituting non-dairy alternatives, I eschewed the kidney beans many versions call for, and added a garnish of crispy shallots because I had a ton of them that needed using.)

Urad Dal
~ 1.5 cups urad dal, rinsed and soaked overnight
~ 1 tbsp. each: coconut oil; vegan butter
~ 1 large onion, diced
~ 3 cloves garlic, minced
~ 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
~ 1 tsp. each: kosher salt, asafoetida, cumin, garam masala, smoked paprika, chili powder, fenugreek
~ ½ tsp. each: cardamom, cayenne pepper
~ 1 15 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes
~ 4 cups water or stock (I used Better Than Bouillon "no chicken")
~ 1 15 oz. can full-fat coconut milk
~ Chopped fresh cilantro

~ In a large, deep pot, melt the coconut oil and butter and cook the onion over medium heat (stirring occasionally) for about 10 minutes, until soft but not browned.
~ Add the garlic, ginger, and dry spices and cook another few minutes; stir in the tomatoes and cook 10 minutes more.
~ Add the drained urad dal and water or stock, bring just to a boil, and then turn the heat to low and cook for about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. (NB this may take a bit longer; you want the dal to be very soft but to still retain some shape.)
~ When the dal is soft, add the coconut milk and cook another 5-10 minutes.
~ Taste for seasoning and serve topped with rice or naan, topped with chopped cilantro and crispy shallots (below).

Crispy Shallots
~ 1-2 tbsp. canola oil
~ 10 large shallots, sliced
~ 1 tsp. kosher salt

~ In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and cook the shallots until crispy but not burned (this should take about 10 minutes). Sprinkle with salt and set aside.

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