The Nine Jeweled Lentils Dhal

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Navratan, meaning nine gems or jewels – traditionally hold important cultural significance and only the purest gems were chosen to create this auspicious piece of jewellery, usually in the form of a pendant.

This led to the creation of the famous Navratan Korma, which is a vegetarian dish made using nine different vegetables, and it originates from the Mughal times in India. It is said that one of the Kings had been advised to eat more vegetables when he had been taken ill, but he abhorred the sight of the leafy greens. The royal chef then created the dish, Navratan Korma to entice the King into eating vegetables, albeit they were covered in heavy cream, nuts and butter. This dish is one of the vegetarian favourites till today.

Inspired by the nine gems, I decided to use lentils as my gems as they have a colourful, flawless texture that remind me of little jewels.

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I love playing with lentils and my pantry is always full of a variety of dried lentils and beans. For this recipe, I just took a little fistful of all the dried lentils, peas and beans that I had in my pantry. Feel free to use a combination of any type that you may have sitting in the pantry.

The more colourful they are, the better!

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First, wash the lentils and beans under running water and soak them in a bowl for about an hour or so. This just helps soften the grains a little before they start cooking.

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The Nine Jeweled Lentils Dhal
 
Prep time
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Nine jeweled Lentils Dhal - mixed dhal
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 fist each of nine types of dried lentils - any colour, peas and beans
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp paprika (kashmiri red chili powder)
  • 3 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
Instructions
  1. Soak the dried lentils in about 2 inches of water for an hour. Drain the water.
  2. Heat the lentils in a pot with 4 inches of water above the lentils. Add the turmeric powder and boil the lentils until they are all fully cooked through and soft.
  3. Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. As soon as they start to sizzle and change in colour, add the onions and the green chillies. Cook until the onions have softened and are golden in colour.
  4. Add the ginger paste and cook for a minute before adding the tomatoes.
  5. Cook until the tomatoes are very soft and you can see the oil separating from the tomato onion mixture. About 5-6 minutes.
  6. Add the spices to the tomato mixture and cook for 30 seconds before adding everything to the cooked lentils.
  7. Let the dhal cook for a further few minutes to allow the flavours to blend in well, before serving.
  8. Stir in the butter and the cilantro before serving with some rice and salad.

The recipe is amazingly simple.

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I made my rice with almonds, cinnamon, black cardamom, black peppercorns, green raisins and chicken stock.

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I made a quick raita to accompany the dhal, by sprinkling dried mint, cilantro, paprika, coriander powder and cumin powder on top.

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I made a quick tomato, onions, green pepper salad by just sprinkling some salt, pepper, mango powder on top along with some lime juice and sprinkling some fresh cilantro on top for a garnish.

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Pickled Turmeric

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I love fresh Turmeric but it’s not easy to find all year round, especially not in this part of the world. So what does one do when one fills up a large bag of fresh turmeric. There’s only so much a family of 3 can eat, and it’s not something that can really be consumed a lot in one sitting. So, I decided to pickle mine! DSC_1695 (1280x859)

 

First, I washed the turmeric, and let them dry on a kitchen towel for a few minutes. Since the climate here is very dry, everything dries up within minutes whether regardless of the time of year. I then peeled the turmeric, but saved the shavings.

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I dried the shavings on a towel for a couple of days before keeping them in a jar to save for when I make some Chai. I just add a little piece of the shaving into the water for when I make tea, and it not only adds another dimension of flavour to the tea but also some golden colour to the traditionally brown brew.

So after peeling the turmeric, I sliced the turmeric into thick juliennes and popped them into a jar in which I was already pickling some green chillies.

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This is a simple ‘non traditional’ form of pickling that I use. Its something I learnt by watching my grandma make some Indian summer pickles.

Lots of sliced green chillies at the bottom of the jar, with slices of fresh turmeric on top. Fill the jar upto the top but not overloaded. Sprinkle some salt generously into the jar, I added 1 tablespoon into a half pint jar. Fill the jar up with some white vinegar and tightly close the lid. Let this rest in the sun or a warm place in the window for a couple of days or so, shaking the contents of the jar every 6-8 hours or whenever you remember to!

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The contents of the jar will sink a little as it ‘pickles’. I use the pickled turmeric in cooking every day meals, including pasta sauces! Its delicious when eaten on its own too, but a tad bit on the strong side for me. I recently added some to a stir fry I was making and the chillies at the bottom were also amazingly potent.

A nice addition to my pickling jars for sure.

Baby Yams and Spinach Curry

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I like mixing traditional ingredients with a little twist of my own, and this is one of those recipes I guess. I’ve been trying to get my boys to eat yams for a while, but the fusspots don’t like them. This recipe finally changed that!

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It all started with a bag of baby Yams and I had no idea what I wanted to do with them. So, I peeled them and threw them into the oven with some onions, garlic and olive oil. I wanted to spice them up a little so at the last minute I added a couple of fresh Serrano peppers chopped up in the midst.

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In the oven for 30 minutes at 375F and they came out beautifully, sweet on the inside with a big crunchy kick. I picked out the yams and blitzed the onions, garlic (after peeling them) and serrano peppers into a paste.

Heat this paste with some oil and added a huge bag of baby spinach, followed by a packet of frozen chopped spinach. My hand blender helped blitz the spinach smooth and I just cooked it down until there wasn’t any water left at the bottom when I scratched the surface of the pan with a wooden spoon. A couple of tablespoons of crushed tomatoes helped add some colour and flavour to it too.

I only added some salt, black pepper and garam masala to the spinach before adding the baby yams. My husband needed his traditional blob of butter to make it feel real for him and it was amazing with some corn bread.

Unfortunately, the meal disappeared before I could take a shot of the flat corn breads.

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