This week’s featured Grub Street Publishing cookbook is The Dal Cookbook. Add some ethnic flavors to your weekend with this traditional Indian cuisine.
The Dal Cookbook
2015 Gourmand Awards Winner: Best Indian Cuisine
Dal is to India what pasta is to Italy. Cheap to produce, highly nutritional, suitable for long storage and capable of being cooked in a basic pot on an open fire, dal has been providing nourishment to millions of Indians for millennia. It truly is a pan-Indian dish consumed by rich and poor alike. It is high protein and has practically no sugar – in fact it is known as ‘poor man’s meat’ in India – hence doctors now include this as an essential item in a diet for diabetics. Dal is a genuinely impressive dish of infinite variety – there are at least 50 recipes for this humble food. There are multiple ways of cooking it, wide-ranging seasonings are used and there are diverse supplements to serve with it. Over the centuries Indian cooks became innovative and with locally available ingredients they dished out dal to satisfy a regional palate. In the process they also invented new dishes using dal lentils such as kedgeree (khichari – a risotto made with lentil), dosas (pancakes mixed with lentil flower), vadas (lentil cakes), dhokla (baked lentil cakes), papadam (dried lentil snack) and pakoras (fritters dipped in lentil batter).
Keep reading for the full recipe for Pakora or Bhaji!
Pakora or Bahji
225g whole or sliced pieces of vegetable of choice (if you are making pakoras)
225g washed and thinly shredded vegetable of choice (if you are making bhajis)
100 ml to 200 ml vegetable oil for deep frying (amount varies with size of karahi or wok)
For the batter
100 gram flour (besan)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground masoor dal
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi)
salt, to taste
mix the batter ingredients together well with enough water to make a thick paste that can easily stick to the vegetables and stay on as coating.
For making pakhoras: Heat the oil to a chip frying temperature. Coat the pieces one at a time in the batter and put it carefully straight into the hot oil in a batch of 3-4 at a time and fry for about 2-3 minutes, drain on a piece of kitchen towel and keep warm. Lay them on a plate and serve with pickles, chutney or dips.
For making bhajis: Use the same batter ingredients and make a thick paste with water. Now mix the shredded vegetables with it so that it becomes one whole lumpy and glutinous batter. Put one tablespoon of batter and vegetable mix carefully straight into the hot oil for one bhaji in a batch of 3-4 at a time and fry for about 2-3 minutes, drain on a piece of kitchen towel and keep warm. Lay them on a plate and serve with pickles, chutney or dips.
For more delicious Indian Dal recipes, purchase your copy of The Dal Cookbook here.
Also available from all major booksellers.