Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chana Dhal-Indian Style Lentils


This type of lentils is called Chana Dhal or split chickpeas and is available at all Indian Grocers.  This is a vegetarian dish that fills you up with healthy fiber and protein.  I actually made it with coconut milk so it's vegan too.

Ingredients at a Glance:
2 1/2 cups of dry Chana Dhal (Lentils)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 cinnamon stick (1inch long) **do not use powdered cinnamon**
1/2 a large onion chopped
2 serrano chilies diced (seeded for less spiciness)
2Tbs grated ginger
3-4 cloves garlic minced
1Tbs mustard seed
1Tbs cumin seed
small handful of curry leaves (optional)
red chili flakes to taste
1 can (15oz) of diced tomatoes
salt to taste
1 cup of coconut milk

Rinse and soak 2 1/2 cups of dry Chana Dhal for 3 hours in water. The Chana Dhal needs to soak so it can cook easier. You will see after soaking the Channa Dhal will double in size. After it's soaked rinse again and then put in a pot to cook with twice as much water to boil.

Boil the chana dhal with turmeric and a cinnamon stick on medium heat for 30-40 minutes or until the Chana dhal is tender enough to crush in your fingers. In the last few minutes of boiling, add salt to taste so the Chana dhal has some time to absorb it.  Turn off the heat now and start the tempering process

***Use only cinnamon in stick form, not the powdered.

I call the next step "tempering" or it can be called "tarka" in Indian cooking.  It's basically frying spices and herbs to flavor the lentil dish.  Here are the ingredients you will need: onion chopped, serrano chilies diced,  grated ginger and garlic minced, mustard seed, cumin seed, a small handful of curry leaves(available in Indian stores) and one can (15oz) of diced tomatoes or two fresh tomatoes diced. 

Tempering Process:
Once the Chana is cooked to the desired consistency, you can start the tempering process. One medium high heat add  2tbs of oil. Once the oil is heated put in the mustard, cumin seeds and curry leaves.  You will see the seeds spluttering while they release all their flavors. 

Now add the onion, chili, chili flakes,  garlic and ginger and fry.  Then add the tomatoes and fry.

Add the cooked Chana Dhal (there maybe some liquid from the boiling (hopefully not too much). Stir all the ingredients together then add your coconut milk and simmer for a few more minutes. Taste for salt and serve with rice. Enjoy.

Serves 6-8 people Serve it with Rice and other meat and vegetable curries. Enjoy.

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