Honey-roasted parsnips with red onion, panch phoron, chilli, garlic and parsley

Hot, sweet, garlicky and bright with parsley and lemon – the good old parsnip is far more interesting in this company. A real revelation, in fact. The whole winter I’ve been roasting it with honey, red onions and panch phoron. I add the chillies and garlic when the parsnips and onions are nearly done (so that they don’t burn). Sometimes I roast the chillies and garlic only briefly, and sometimes a little longer, depending on how strong I want these flavours to be. I finish off with a sprinkling of parsley, and a squeeze of lemon. Life is always brighter with lemon.

(more…)

Sri Lankan Pineapple Curry

We’re continuing on the fragrant Sri Lankan curry leaf trail. Next stop: a gorgeous pineapple curry. Hot, sweet and sour, permeated with the addictive fragrance of curry leaves.

The trick is to cut pineapple into medium chunks, and warm them through gently, taking care not to overcook them. In this way, as you bite into the pineapple pieces, fresh juice oozes out, delicious and tart.

The photo below was taken by my friend A.

 Sri Lankan Pineapple Curry

Sri Lankan Pineapple Curry

.

SOURCE: Jasmine

PREPARATION TIME: about 15 min

COOKING TIME: 3- 5 min

CUISINE: Sri Lankan

SERVES: 3 – 4 as a side dish

 

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced OR two small shallots, thinly sliced

1 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds

a handful of curry leaves

1 dsp Sri Lankan chilli powder (or less if you prefer less heat)

1/2 large pineapple, chopped into 2 cm chunks

 

METHOD:

1. Prepare your ingredients first, as the cooking happens in quick succession. Chop the pineapple, slice the onions, get everything ready.

2. Time to start cooking! Heat some oil, in a wok or a wide pan, on medium high heat. Add mustard seeds to hot oil, and when they pop, the onion and the curry leaves. Cook until the onion is soft.

3. Next, add the chilli powder, and fry for about 30 s or so.

4. Add the pineapple, and stir fry for a few minutes, taking care not to overcook it. You just want to heat the pineapple through and coat it with the spicy mixture.

Serve this side dish as a part of a larger meal, Sri Lankan, or even Indian. I even served it with a Thai red curry once, and it worked really well.

.

 

 More Sri Lankan Food at Maninas: 

 The aroma of curry leaves: Sri Lankan cooking (Introduction)

Sri Lankan spices (including recipes for Sri Lankan garam masala, curry powder and more!)

Varar – Sri Lankan cabbage and leek with coconut (V)

Sri Lankan coconut dhal (V)

Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets

Sri Lankan Fish Curry (Meen kulambu)

 

 

 Weekend Herb Blogging 

This is my entry for this week’s WHB, hosted by Huan from Eat.Read.Live.

Digg This

Punjabi green lentil dhal – incredibly easy and incredibly tasty

Spice box

About two years ago, or perhaps a bit less, when I first started cooking Indian food, a very kind and generous British lady of Punjabi origin invited me to her home for what she jokingly called ‘a curry lesson’. I watched wide-eyed and scared. In awe of all the spice jars and containers dancing in front of my very own eyes. At a time, I knew and recognised a lot of them and had them in my own kitchen, but had precious little clue on what to do with them, if truth be told. That day was a turning point in my cooking in general for several reasons. The first, and perhaps the most important lesson, was to relax. Before, I was confused with all these spices, and scared I’m doing things wrongly. Watching her cook was amazing. She was instinctive, creative, spontaneous. ‘Shall we add a bit of this?… And what do you think that will taste?… I think I’ll do this….’ I relaxed in my mind, and in my attitude towards Indian food; I wasn’t ‘scared’ anymore and started trying things out. This is when the second lesson kicked in: trying things out, and getting to know my ingredients. See how it goes, and learn. Smell and taste. Learn which flavours go together, experiment. Watch what is happening at every stage. Feel and touch. Get involved with your food. See what it feels like at each stage. (Of course, this works with certain foods only.) I truly learnt only by trying and following my instincts. And then remembering and/or writing down what I’d done. And than doing it again.

If you recognise yourself in any of the above, maybe I could help you see that cooking Indian food doesn’t have to be daunting and complicated. Let’s have a look at this very simple Punjabi dhal. Simple in flavour, and simple in technique, but uncompromisingly delicious. Green lentils are simply cooked with turmeric, and then seasoned with a tarka of cumin seeds,fried onions (until brown), ginger and garlic, and then finished off with some garam masala.

Tarka is an Indian technique of frying spices in ghee or oil, sometimes with the addition of some combination of onions, garlic and chillies. This is done either at the beginning of cooking, or at the end. For more information, see Barbara’s post Teaching Tarka. If lentils are its body, tarka is the life and soul of the dhal. The tarka as a final flavouring gives it a character that makes it different from any other of its kind made with same lentils. It defines its origin as Punjabi like this one (with ghee, cumin and onions), South Indian (flavoured with curry leaves, mustard seeds and red chillies) or Bengali (with panch phoron, the characteristically Bengali five spice mix.)

Turmeric

Do try and make this, and when you do, smell the turmeric cooking with the lentils. Take a bit of lentils with a spoon and feel them with your fingertips. See how they feel on your tongue, between your teeth. Follow how they change in texture and flavour. When you’re making the tarka, watch for the bubbles around your wooden spoon that will tell you when the oil or ghee are hot enough for the cumin seeds to go in. When the cumin is in, watch how it sizzles and changes colour. Smell it. Don’t let it burn – things happen quickly with some spices. Now the onions. Watch them loose liquid, and then change colour from translucent, to golden through to reddish and then brown. How sweet they smell, how moreish they become. (See my post ‘Cooking Indian: How to Fry Onions’.)

Green lentils b&w

I adapted this recipe from Vicky Bhogal’s book ‘Cooking Like Mummyji’. I added a teaspoon of cumin seed at the beginning of the onion tadka, upped the chilli and garlic, and reduced the amount of garam masala. The latter is up to you and your tastes, but for me the cumin makes all the difference, and I urge you to try it. I really love the warming aroma of cumin seeds popped in ghee or oil in this dhal. At a pinch, you can use ground cumin if you don’t have cumin seeds, but please add it after the onions are browned (and not at the beginning, before the onions, because it will burn). The flavour is slightly different, but it will add the important cumin note to the dish.

Another change, a little unorthodox for Punjabi cooking perhaps, is that I added a pinch of sugar to the cooked lentils, like they do in Bengal. I find that the sugar round off the flavours really nicely, and mellows the dish.

Vicky calls the recipe ‘whole lentils cooked in a pressure cooker’. I didn’t cook them like that, so that doesn’t apply to me. Plus I find this title a bit too generic, so I’m changing the name to ‘Punjabi green lentils with deep brown onions and garam masala’.

Green lentils

I’ve made this dish a few times, and it’s always been a hit with Someone I Know And Love.  It goes really well with a dollop of yoghurt, some kale aloo, and chapatti. I have just made Anita’s garam masala, and can’t wait to cook this dhal again with it!

Someone I Know And Love has gone off for two weeks and taken our camera with him. No photos, but I will try to get a friend to exchange her photographic skills for some nosh.

This post is going to the wonderful Lisa for the event No Croutons Required. This month, we’re focusing on Indian soups and salads. Right up my street! I can’t wait to see the round-up.

 

___________________________________________________________

ljjlj

Punjabi green lentils with deep

brown onions and garam masala

lhlk

SOURCE:  adapted from Vicky Bhogal’s ‘Cooking Like Mummyji’

PREPARATION TIME: about 5 min

COOKING TIME: about 40 min

CUISINE: Indian, Punjabi

SERVES: 4 as a side dish, or 2 – 3 as a main

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup whole green lentils

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

a small pinch of brown sugar (optional)

1 tbsp ghee / vegetable oil

1 heaped tsp of cumin seeds

1 small yellow onion, sliced thinly (or chopped finely, if you wish)

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

2 – 3 birds eye green chillies, sliced

1/4 tsp Punjabi garam masala

chopped coriander for garnish (optional)

METHOD:

1. Put the lentils into a pan with 2 cups of water (for now, you might need more later if you want it runnier). Let it boil, and skim the scum from the top. Now add turmeric, and continue cooking until soft. When the lentils are soft, add the salt. Add a pinch of sugar if you want now. Add some warm water if you like your lentils less thick or even soupy. (Vicky leaves her lentils whole, but I like to mash some of them up to make the dish creamier.)

2. To make the tarka, first pop the cumin seeds in some hot ghee. First, heat the ghee or oil (it’s hot enough when it starts sizzling when you insert a wooden spoon in it), and then add the cumin. Fry for a few seconds, until the cumin releases its fragrance (watch out, it burns quickly). Then, add the onion, sprinkle it with salt, and fry until golden brown. Now add the chillies, ginger and garlic, and fry for some more, until they soften and loose their raw flavour. If the ginger starts sticking to the pan, add a little water and scrape off. (I usually chop the onion first, then while they’re frying, prepare garlic, ginger and chillies, and add it as I go.)

3. Pour the onion mixture into the dhal and stir through, leaving some tarka on top. Now add the garam masala.

4. Garnish with coriander if using, and serve with some chapattis or rice.

Enjoy!  

More dhals from this blog:

Bengali Red Dhal

Minty dhal (2 versions of  recipe)

Sri Lankan Coconut Dhal

Also:

More recipes with beans and lentils

 

For the winter blues: Sri Lankan coconut dhal

IMG_3547

Hello! How are you, how’s the world at your end? Here in the UK, we’re cocooned in layers of snow of varying thickness, depending on where you are. When I was coming home tonight, around 6.30 pm, I felt this thick layer of snow under my feet is starting to freeze. I wonder what we’ll wake up to tomorrow. As idyllic as it all looks, us Mediterranean types are not faring to well in these conditions. All I want to do is hibernate until the sun shines back on us again. But though I refuse to believe it, the life goes on. There are jobs to do, people to see, dinners to cook… Yes… Dinners… Here’s what kept me awake and re-energised me this evening. Remember that delicious Sri Lankan dhal I was telling you about earlier? Here’s the recipe. Without the photos for now, until my camera awakes from its winter sleep. (I meant to take photos this evening, but my camera failed me.)

IMG_3637

This dhal is a serious contender for the title of my favourite dhal, so far held by the seductive Bengali Red Dal. It has a rich gutsy flavour of red lentils cooked with onion, garlic, chillies, and cumin and black pepper, imbued with the heady aroma of curry leaves, and with a squeeze of lime to heighten your senses. I normally prefer to eat my dhal on the same day I make it, but this one I find improves with time. That is if you can stay away from it and leave some for tomorrow. I’m proud to day that this time I managed to do just that. Not even I can eat this much dhal at one sitting!

Let not the long list of ingredients intimidate you. This dhal is really very easy to make, and you can leave it to look after itself while you’re doing something else. Like making Sri Lankan coconut rotis, for example. Yes, that’s a good thing to do. (Recipe coming soon.) 

________________________________________________

 

Sri Lankan coconut dhal

 

SOURCEJasmine’s recipe

PREPARATION TIME: under 5 min

COOKING TIME: about 45 min

CUISINE: Sri Lankan

SERVES: 3 – 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a main

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup of red lentils

1/4 red (medium to large) onions, or 2 shallots

2 large cloves of garlic, sliced

3 green chillies, roughly chopped

a handful of fresh curry leaves, shredded

1/3 tsp turmeric

2/3 tsp roughly ground cumin and black pepper mixture

1 scant tsp of fenugreek seeds

1/5 – 1/4 can of coconut milk

Juice of 1/2 lime, or more to taste

3 – 4 dried red chillies

salt to taste

a handful of (preferably fresh) curry leaves

1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee

1 tbsp tempering spices (mixture of brown/black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds – see Sri Lankan spices for recipe)

1 1/2 tbsp fried onions (or 3 – 4 shallots, shredded and then fried as below)

 

METHOD:

Place the lentils in about 2 – 3 cups of water. Then chop the chillies, onions, garlic, shred the curry leaves and add them to the lentils, together with turmeric, fenugreek and the cumin and black pepper mixture. Boil together until the lentils turn soft.

When the lentils are soft, add the coconut milk and stir through.

Before you’re ready to eat, prepare the tadka or tempering for the dhal. I usually don’t have fried onions at hand, so this is what I do. I heat the oil and then add the chillies and the curry leaves to it. when the curry leaves are starting to turn crisp, I pop in the onions/shallots, and cook them until they’re almost copper brown. Then add a few more curry leaves (if you want, which I invariably do), and the tempering spices. Stir for 10 s or until they release their fragrance. Now pop the contents of the pan into the lentil mixture, reserving perhaps some for the garnish. Stir, put the lid back on, and leave it for a minute or two for the flavours to mingle and make friends.

Don’t forget the lime. I sometimes add it before adding the tadka to the lentils, and sometimes after the tadka. Either way, don’t leave it out. It really does make all the difference.

________________________________________________

 

More dhals from this blog:

Bengali Red Dhal

Minty dhal (2 versions of  recipe)

 

Also:

More recipes with beans and lentils

More Sri Lankan recipes

 

________________________________________________

 

We’re at the 8th helping of My Legume Love Affair hosted and organised by the talented Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. This is my entry for the event.  

________________________________________________

Varar – Sri Lankan cabbage and leek with coconut

This gorgeous Sri Lankan vegetable side dish is the dish that made me love both leek and cabbage! It magically transforms the everyday common leek and cabbage a real star of a dish. The vegetables are gently stir-fried with onion, chilies and curry leaves, tossed with fresh or desiccated grated coconut, and livened up with a squeeze of lime. Quick to make and utterly delicious! I love it!

Any green veg can be used in this dish (e.g. spring onion, baby leek, other types of cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower), except for spinach and pak choi and other vegetables with high water content. This dish goes really well with fish, or with coconut dal (recipe coming soon) for a vegetarian version.

Even if you can’t find curry leaves, it’s worth giving this dish a go as the flavour combinations are so good. Enjoy!

This my entry for the Eating with the Seasons: January

 

_______________________

 

Varar – Sri Lankan cabbage and

leek with coconut

 

SOURCEJasmine’s recipe

PREPARATION TIME: 10 – 15 min

COOKING TIME: 5 – 10 min

CUISINE: Sri Lankan

SERVES: 3 – 4 as a side dish

 

INGREDIENTS:

a little vegetable oil

1/2 medium to large yellow onion, finely chopped

2 – 3 green chilies (Jasmine uses finger chilies)

a handful of (preferably fresh) curry leaves

a little salt

1 tsp tempering spices (a mixture of brown/black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds – see Sri Lankan spices for recipe)

a pinch of turmeric

2 medium leeks, shredded finely

a handful of desiccated  coconut

fresh lime juice to taste

1/2 medium cabbage, shredded finely

 

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a wok (or frying pan) and add onion, chilies curry leaves and a little salt. Stir and cook until the onion is soft.
  • Now add the tempering spices and turmeric. Stir.
  • Add cabbage and leek and stir for a few minutes, until the cabbage is slightly soft but still crunchy. Do not overcook the vegetables! That’s the secret behind this dish.
  • When the veg is done, add desiccated coconut and stir for a minute or so.
  • Just before serving, add lime juice and some salt if needed. Enjoy!

 

_______________________

 

My other posts on Sri Lankan cooking:

The aroma of curry leaves. Sri Lankan cooking (Introduction)

Sri Lankan spices (including recipes for Sri Lankan garam masala, curry powder and more!)

_______________________

%d bloggers like this: