Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Dal for Dinner

If you are not familiar with the word 'dal' or you think it just means any number of wonderful spicy Indian lentil dishes then your understanding is incomplete. I love bean and lentils and 'dal' is a generic term for probably millions of variations on spicy bean or lentil dishes. Mark Bitten has shared 5 great sounding recipes for 'dal' in his minimalist column today in the New York Times. While I haven't tried any of these yet they all sound great...especially the one "French Lentils with Cashews" and there is a very strong chance it will be on the dinner menu for tonight.
My one comment on the recipes is that he says to use butter or oil and I think all of the recipes should use 'ghee' or at least clarified butter. It is simple to make and brings a wonderful taste to such dishes. I will substitute it for the butter in all of the recipes when I try them and I think all of them would be the better for it. Ghee brings a rich 'nutty' taste to Indian food and really adds a whole new dimension of flavor.

Here is the recipe for the French Lentils with Cashews:

French Lentils With Cashews
2 tablespoons butter or peanut(here is where I would use 'ghee'/clarified butter instead)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder or garam masala
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup chopped cashews
1/2 cup dried French green (Le Puy) lentils, washed and picked over
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup yogurt for garnish
1/4 cup chopped parsley for garnish.
1. Put butter in a large pot over medium heat until it is melted and foamy (or shimmering if using oil). Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in spice blend and keep stirring for a few seconds, until it becomes fragrant. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until it darkens, another couple of minutes.
2. Add cashews and stir to coat them in onion mixture. Cook and stir just long enough for them to warm a bit. Add lentils and enough water to cover by about an inch.
3. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to medium-low so mixture bubbles gently. Cook, stirring until beans are soft, 20 to 30 minutes; add more water as needed to keep everything moist. When lentils are cooked to desired tenderness and mixture has thickened, stir in some salt and pepper, then taste and adjust seasoning. Serve, garnished with a dollop of yogurt and a little parsley.

If you have never made or used clarified butter here is how to make it. It only takes about 5 minutes and this recipe makes about a cup and a half. It keeps in the fridge for weeks and you can use it intead of butter for sauteing and such. It works great for frying eggs and omelets as well as pancakes, latkes and such.

2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Place the butter in a heavy saucepan and melt slowly over low heat. I usually wait until I see it sputter a bit from the water in the butter boiling off and I can see the milk solids settling on the bottom of the pot. I wait until most of the 'sputtering' stops (5 minutes tops) and remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes.

Skim the foam from the top, and slowly pour the clear butterfat into a container leaving all of the milk solids in the bottom of the pan. The milk solids go into the trash.

Clarified butter has a much higher smoke point than butter. It allows you to cook meats and fish at a higher temperature than you can with regular butter, making it perfect for pan-frying. Clarifying the butter lets you remove the milk solids that cause butter to burn quickly.

Ghee is basically just clarified butter that has been cooked a bit longer and in which the milk solids have caramelized. To make ghee just keep heating the clarified butter over low heat until the milk solids have darkened a bit (not burned) and you begin to smell the nutty aroma that comes from the caramelized milk. It takes about 20 more minutes to make a ghee. It will keep longer than clarified butter because absolutely all of the water has been boiled off. Ghee is indispensable in Indian cooking and a lot of Mediterranean dishes as well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

xanax 2mg xanax bars lil wayne lyrics - how long will 1mg xanax last