Sunday, March 25, 2007

Delicious Dal and Vegetable Curry

It's easy, it's simple, and it's sort of quick. But most of all it's delicious (and cheap)! This was a favorite vegetarian meal that my mom used to make when I was growing up. You see, we lived in a desert on the end of the earth, there was no place to buy meat, the nearest "super market" that sold meat was an 8 hour drive from home. Needless to say we only went food shopping about once a month, and when we shopped, we really stocked up good. So when we bought meat, we would freeze it and bring it home for the 8 hour drive in a cooler. We could only buy as much meat as our little kerosene refrigerator's freezer could hold- and let me tell you- the freezer was the size of a large-ish shoe box. So it was my mothers goal to eat meat only every other night- which meant coming up with vegetarian meals that didn't require many fresh veggies on the other nights. I say not very many fresh vegetables because if you are only shopping once a month, those vegetables that you bought won't last for the whole month. There is however a small town in the desert called Lodwar, and there your could buy the very basics. Potatoes, cabbage, onions, and tomatoes. So those were a heavy influence in our daily cooking. Other staples that last indefinitely are rice and dried beans of all varieties. And so this lovely meal of Dal and cabbage potato curry uses all the staples that are readily available to us throughout the month.

Mung beans, also known as green grams

Green Gram Dal

Bring to a boil in a pot:
1 cup green grams
2 1/2 cups water
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
Once the green grams begin to boil, turn off the heat and allow them to set, covered. I let them sit anywheres between 30 minutes to an hour and a half, if you do it for the shorter time, it simply means you have to cook them longer till they are tender.

Meanwhile, fry in a heavy pan or cast iron skillet:
1 large onion, chopped
2 Tbl oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped

Once the onions begin to soften, add and continue to fry:
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp cloves
1 tsp coriander

Bring the soaked green grams back up to a boil and add in the onion/spice mixture. Allow green grams to continue to simmer until they are tender (30 minutes to an hour).

Frying onions and spices for the Dal


Cabbage and Potato Curry

Chop and fry in the cast iron skillet you had used for the onions above:
2 Tbl oil
2 large potatoes

Once the potatoes begin to brown add:
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 Tbl coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1 Tbl cumin
1 tsp salt
2 tomatoes, chopped (I didn't have any on hand at the time, so I left them out)
1/2 a head of cabbage, chopped
any other vegetable desired such as green bell pepper or carrot

Stir to combine. The pan may be getting dry and smokey, so add some water, about a 1/2 cup or so, in order to prevent burning and sticking to pan. Cover pan with lid, and cook until all vegetables are cooked, adding water as needed. This is a dry curry, so don't go overboard with the water.

Enjoy your Dal and Cabbage and Potato curry with some basmati rice and some chapatis (if you have time to make them).

Dal on top of Basmati rice and Cabbage and Potato curry on the side


Susan in Italy said...

Oh, I'm loving this! You probably grew up healthier than most people with eating habist like that. The Indian curried vegetables and dal look great. I love that they're so delicious, nutritious and cheap.

Maria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maria said...

Thanks Susan! Yes this meal is really the ideal healthy and cheap dinner!