When I was growing up there were a few food rules at my house. Rice or potatoes, lentils or potatoes, never both. At least not at the same meal. That would be wrong wrong wrong. Sort of like wearing white shoes after Labor Day or more than three pieces of jewelry at once. Tres un chic dontcha know.
Okay, now to be honest, who am I kidding? I never got rice or lentils growing up. Or if I did, it was an accident or at a relative or friend's house. It wasn't until I started cooking Indian food 21 years ago that I learned that 2 American "no nos" make an Indian meal a great big "YES!"
A good dal is the foundation of any good Indian meal. Served simply with a vegetable, you've got an easy, fast, economical meal. Dressed up and married with a couple of potatoes and you've got a side dish that goes with any Indian or Western style feast, plus a true comfort food. 'Cause bottom line, that is what this is. Straight up, I could put on a pair of PJs and dive into a kadhai full of this while watching a Real Housewives of New Jersey Marathon. I'm not proud of that but yes, it's true.
Now that we're making the transition into cooler weather, this dal also works for those last end of summer, early fall cookouts that might be happening. The lentils are channa dal (yellow split peas are a good substitute). The spices are simple and any of them are available in any Supermarket or WF spice aisle. This is a real easy anytime dish, and it can be ready in about an hour.
Dal and Potatoes
Here's what to do:
Wash and rinse 1/2 cup of channa dal.
Put the channa dal into 3 cups of water with 1/2 tsp of salt.
Bring it to a boil
Then turn the heat down, put a lid on things and simmer it gently for 1 hour.
While that's happening
Peel 4 new potatoes (I love Yukon Golds for this.)
In a skillet or kadhai heat 3 Tbs of vegetable oil
When the oil is hot toss in:
1/4 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/4 tsp of cumin seeds
10 fenugreek seeds
When the cumin and fenugreek seeds get dark and the mustard seeds start to pop, toss in:
1 medium sized onion finely chopped
Stir fry the onions and ginger for about 5 minutes
A few turns of ground pepper
1/8 to 1/4 tsp of Kashmiri chili or cayenne
3 Tbs of tamarind puree or if you don't have it use 2 Tbs of lemon juice
Mix everything together and cook gently for about 5 minutes over medium heat until everything is heated through.
Sprinkle the dish with chopped fresh cilantro and you're done.
There it is, a warm comforting dish of dal and potatoes. Put together, it's a sort of warm Indian potato salad that goes with a variety of dishes or all by it's lonesome with an evening of the Bravo Channel. It's just the sort of thing I've been fixing around here lately when the script finishing pressure is on.
Coming up next, I am in love... with a ceramic bread baker and I go all pioneer with sourdough starter. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori