Scroll down to get to the recipe quicker.
I guess if I ever had a cooking show (enter raucous laughter from the peanut gallery) it would resemble Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee only on a smaller scale. Recipes that are easy enough for me with an added homemade flair to them even though you know there’s a box or can of something off the supermarket’s shelf in that pot. Do you remember Sandra’s show? Is she still a popular cooking personality?
Granny and I would sometimes watch her show when I’d visit, because visiting Granny means watching the good stuff. (Retirement is AWESOME.) Inevitably, Granny would fasten her eyes on the screen and with a pointed glare say, “They match the set to her clothes.”
“Um hmm,” I’d reply.
So, my cooking style is like Sandra Lee’s but without the ever-changing set, the expertise or….Oh, heck! My cooking’s nothing like Sandra Lee’s.
Indian Spiced Dal (with commentary)
We eat Indian Dal EVERY DAY in this house because our new daughter is a creature of habit. For the last 8 1/2 years our daughter ate rice and dal at the orphanage in India where she grew up. And still, it is all she wants. We eat different combinations of it, but right now this is what we’re enjoying (she ate 3 big helpings the first night I made it!)and it began when my husband found this bag of organic lentil trio at Costco:
That box of Shan Dal Curry is the “semi” part of this recipe. Although I have almost every Indian spice ever discovered sitting pretty in my pantry, I still grab the box. Which is either pathetic or clever.
Heat up 1/4 cup of oil or ghee. I use coconut oil when I don’t have ghee on hand. Fry a large onion for just a few minutes. Not long. Maybe 2-3 minutes? The traditional Indian way to cook onions is to slice them thinly. My kids prefer chopped.
Add 10 cloves of crushed garlic. I just eyeball it from my bottle of garlic paste. I aim for about 5 tsp. Cook 1 minute.
Add 1-2 TB of Shan Spice Mix for Dal Curry. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY make sure you grab the box that says Mild Lentil Mix. Anything stronger will rocket you to the moon and we’ll never see your furry self again.
As a matter of fact, if you’re new to Indian food or maybe not so keen on heat, ONLY use 1 TB of mild spice mix. We use 1 1/2 TB. The first time we used this mix our daughter had just joined our family. She couldn’t speak my language and I couldn’t speak hers, but one bite of her new Mommy’s dal and she began spinning pinwheels with her arms as she repeated one phrase. I learned my first non-Rosetta Stone Hindi word that day. What sounds like grr-ah-may when roughly translated means, “You’ve brought me here to poison me. I knew it!” Actually, a frantic phone call to my husband who does speak her language, revealed she was emphatically repeating, “HOT!” I think I had used 3 TB or so that night…
Add your tomato. Do you have any idea how hard it is to hold a camera phone in one hand and snap a photo that’s worth a crap while trying to cook with the other hand and NOT burn the onions and garlic?
Now add 1 cup lentil mix. My Indian born husband is a lentil/rice Nazi. As a young boy in India, his job consisted of painstakingly sorting through the food bags in search of worms and stones. Dutiful husband that he is, he trained me to always rinse and sort though the lentils before using them.
So we do this little thing whenever I cook with lentils and rice where he asks if I picked the stones out and I assure him that yes I did, although I have NEVER found one stone in my bag of lentils in 21 years of marriage. Of course, I never really opened a bag of lentils for the first 11 years. And I never really do look for stones. What he doesn’t know… I said all of this to say, I have no idea if you need to rinse THESE lentils. I think probably not. They looked good and clean to me.
Pour in 4 cups of water. Yes, I know the box says to do something else, but trust me, if you’re using these lentils you need only 4 cups of water. I promise.
When it begins to boil turn the heat down to LOW and simmer 20-25 minutes. You want them soft, but not mushy. I usually cook mine 20 minutes.
Now, here’s the part that’s for the brave soul because this is the part that gives your food just a hint of that Indian food smell. If you don’t want to walk in Wal-Mart smelling slightly authentic after cooking, you might want to skip this part. But seriously, it’s not THAT bad and Wal-Mart smells anyway. Be a part of the smelly crowd, I say!
This little cutie is our new daughter and she’s holding a bag of curry leaves. Sometimes your local Indian grocer will have some, but likely not. All of the Indian people down here grow them in their yard. So if you’re smart, you’ll find an Indian friend NOW. They have all sorts of goodies.
Now I’m going to tell you a little somethin’, somethin’ you didn’t hear from me.
The Indian folks, they be BRAVE folks. They smuggle the goods in their luggage whenever they’re returning from their native land. You see, there are spices and such that one isn’t really allowed to bring back from India. But they do it, these brave souls. Hidden in their luggage!! Hidden in their children’s luggage!! I’ve been to India twice and you better bet your bottom dollar that you ARE NOT going to smuggle your seedy weeds in my bags. I WILL RAT YOUR BUTT OUT. Ask my husband. Because you see, like a sane person, I have a healthy fear of jail and I’m NOT getting carted off to jail, by homeland security or whoever the heck has that job, over some nut or leaf or seed. But I will bum your hard-fought delicacies from you, because that’s the kind of friend I am.
Once you track down the curry leaves, pull 10 off the stem.
A few minutes before your lentils are ready, heat up 1/8 cup of oil or ghee (I like to use a little less). Add your bummed curry leaves and fry for a minute. Just a minute or two. Not long. Then pour the curry/oil over the lentils and stir in.
Now here’s how my husband SWEARS the Indian families do it. You have the rice already made up. You just pull it out of the fridge and add the hot lentils on top. Then the cold rice combines with the hot lentils and you have ready to eat food. The perfect temperature for all your little children. If you don’t have leftover rice, make you some. You will want to eat your Indian spiced dal over rice.
Now India is BIG on what we call condiments. They give you dips for EVERYTHING and more than one. It’s common to get 3 different types of dip for one little dish. And let me tell you Jessie can NOT make those dips and spreads, chutneys and pickles they call them, because Jessie has tried and made mold. Another reason Pinterest and I just don’t get along.
So this is cooking with
Sandra Lee Jessie. Grab the yogurt! If the food is too spicy for your preference, add some more yogurt.
See that bag of redlicious goodness. That holds Indian spiced tomatoes that my husband’s cousin gave me because she knows how much I LOVE THEM. When I learn how to make them I will come back and tell you. Until then, you can just watch me mix them in my dal and enjoy.
Oh, oh, oh! This is so good. I really wish I could share…really. I’ll eat a spoonful for you because I’m that kind of friend too.
Indian Spiced Dal
1 cup Nature’s Nature’s Earthly Choice Organic Lentil Trio – Red Split, Green and Black Beluga (3 lbs)
. We found ours at Costco.
1 large onion, chopped or thinly sliced
10 cloves chopped garlic
1 Tomato, chopped
4 cups water
1/4 cup oil or Purity Farms Clarified Butter Ghee, 7.5 oz
Shan Dal Curry Mix – 100 Gms X 6 Pcs (Mix for mild lentil curry). Found in Indian grocery store. (We use 1 1/2TB)
Optional: 10 Curry Leaves
Fry onion in oil or ghee for just a few minutes.
Add garlic for a minute.
Add Shan Dal Curry Mix for another minute.
Add rinsed lentils, chopped tomato, and 4 cups of water.
Once water begins to boil lower the heat to LOW and boil for 20-25 minutes. You just want the lentils soft, but not mushy.
!If Using Curry Leaves
When lentils are almost finished grab another small skillet or pan and heat up about 1/8 cup of oil or ghee.
Add curry leaves and fry for 1 minute.
Pour curry leaf mixture into cooked lentil mixture and mix in.
Serve over rice and adjust the heat by mixing in yogurt to taste.