Thursday, November 12, 2009

you need to go on a diet, woman.

ok so the PA at my endocrinologist tweaked my pump settings for my new gym routine, which has resulted in a 4 and a half pound weight gain in the past in the past four weeks as one thing after another has come between me and the gym. that is another post .
this post is about dhal. moong dahl, in this instance, my dhal of choice for making dhal, the meal. which is pretty much the perfect food if you are dieting, since it is a complex carb with a lot of fiber, protein, and iron and it is pretty much fat free. it is also extraordinarily inexpensive to make, as long as you have already spent a hundred dollars on indian spices for your cabinet! haha. as we all know, i am an out-of-the-way ethnic grocery store prowler. and as many of you know, i have my spices and pantry goods mapped out by country on spread sheets. sick, i know. but i like to keep a well-stocked pantry so that i can whip up things like this....
presenting my favorite dhal recipe, cobbled together over a few years and perfected at last...
you will need:
2 cups moong dhal. of course you can use any dhal to make dhal. i also like masoor dhal and channa dhal, but i love the flavor of moong dhal so much i made a little shrine to it today.

take these two cups of split moong dhal and rinse them a few times, look for any stones or the like, then soak them in cold water to cover for 30 minutes.
boring, but necessary.

while the dhal is soaking, get the rest of the things ready...
a couple of chopped tomatoes, and the juice of a large lemon, or, if you are like me and rely on your pantry more than the farmer's market, a can of tomatoes and a 3 teaspoons of lemon juice.

about an inch or so of grated ginger, a teaspoon of amchur powder, and a teaspoon of turmeric.
yummy looking, aren't they?

that is for the dhal itself. for the tarka, you will need, clockwise from the top here, a teaspoon of cumin seeds, a teaspoon of black mustard seeds, half a teaspoon of asafoetida, also called hing, and a teaspoon of kalonji, also called nigella seeds, one red chili pepper, or more, if your husband isn't a big spice wimp, and about 6-8 curry leaves. my curry leaves are black because i buy them fresh and then freeze them.

last, but not least. a half a bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped. mmmm, i love the smell of chopped cilantro. ok, so when the moong dhal are done soaking, drain them and add 2 cups of water, some salt, and a pinch of the asafoetida. bring this to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer for 25 minutes, or until your dhal are soft and most of the water is gone. you may have to add more water as you go, which is fine. in this batch today i added an additional 1.5 cups of water, since i was cooking it down pretty rapidly and i don't like it totally dry.
once it is all soft and the consistency is how you like it, add the tomatoes, which i drain but do not rinse, the lemon juice, the ginger, and the asafoetida and the turmeric. mix it well, lovingly even, until all of the ingredients look combined. let this mixure simmer for about 15 minutes. the dhal should look something like this right now.

now, to make the tarka. most recipes call for oil for the tarka, but i like to use ghee, for the flavor as well as the very high smoking point.
heat your oil of choice to HOT, in a little pan like this:

then, since my husband is a spice wimp and we both have the western-palette downfall of not liking large, inedible things in our food, i do the pepper and the curry leaves first, and then fish them out once they have infused the ghee.
smells so good, and watch as the curry leaves resume their proper color, a nice rich green.
then, i add the rest of the dry spices in this order...cumin, mustard, kalonji, hing. the hing should sizzle when you pour it in. let these sit, while gently shaking the pan, till they start to pop around. do NOT let them burn, as they will destroy the taste of your ENTIRE dhal if they do. yuk!

hello, my pretties. i wish there was smell-o-vision on this blog.

once they are popping, add them directly into the simmering dhal. they should create quite a sizzle when they do, this is why it is called "tempering", which is why i linked to the "tarka" wiki up above.
and here is lunch. and dinner. and breakfast, for that matter, for me, for the rest of the week. five pounds off, it's a must. so there it is. a food photographer i AM NOT, but i hope you enjoyed reading this labor intensive entry in inverse proportion to how much i enjoyed putting it up!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

you know what stops me?

no pictures. in my head, a blog must have pictures or it is not a proper blog entry. i need to quit thinking that way, or i will skip this too often.

that being said, here is a recent picture that we took of us while laying around in bed one morning, vincent is being a vampire.

my life rocks. you think that is awesome? how about this...
for those of you not obsessed with bollywood, or not close enough to me to have been treated to a screening of rab ne bana de jodi, this is vincent dressed up (of his own accord, i swear!) as a character shah rukh plays in that film. those of you who also love bollywood or have been here for a showing of RNBDJ, yes, that is vincent dressed up as surinder sahni. punjab power, lighting up your life!
speaking of bollywood and the like, my hindi lessons are coming along well. i am on unit 10 of the pimsleur hindi cds and am working on the first row of consonants in devanagari. ka, kha, ga, gha, da, get it! found this killer tutorial website to help me along, as well as the snell textbook and my recycled business card flash card set, always in my pocket! i have the k's taped up to my desk shelf at work this week. Bahut accha!