Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Not a Weeknight Recipe: Dal Makhani

I was introduced to lentils late in life and have loved them in most presentations I've tried. My all-time favorite might be mujadera, which is on my list to make as soon as I'm in the mood for spending an hour or so caramelizing onions.

The other lentil dish that might be my favorite is dal makhani. The recipe I found has some good points and bad points, but the end result was absolutely delicious.

  • 1 Cup dry lentils (I used brown ones, red would also do fine)
  • 1/4 Cup dry kidney beans, optional (I used these, but they didn't actually cook all the way through and I have no idea why)
  • Water to cover (for soaking)
  • 5 cups of water (I used broth, and this was really too much)
  • 2 Tablespoons salt (I used a T and it turned out to be way too much. I should have considered that there was salt in the low-sodium broth and probably added maybe a teaspoon total)
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (I used avocado, see below)
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 4 cardamom pods (I used 6 because I love cardamom so much)
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken (in several pieces)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1.5 Tablespoons ginger paste (I keep chopped ginger in a jar around, grating or mincing the same amount would probably be fine, though I suggest if you mince add the ginger earlier in the cooking process to give it time to soften)
  • 1.5 Tablespoons garlic paste (see comment above)
  • .5 teaspoon ground tumeric (I used more like 2 teaspoons because there was only a little left in the jar)
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
  • 1 Cup canned tomato puree
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 Tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1/4 cup of butter (half a stick)
  • 2 Tablespoons dried fenugeek leaves (I used powdered fenugeek)
  • 1/2 Cup cream, optional
I've been using avocado oil lately because of the light taste and I thought this was another great opportunity to take advantage of the lightness.


  • Place lentils and kidney beans in a large bowl; cover with plenty of water. Soak for at least 2 hours or overnight. Drain.
  • Cook lentils, kidney beans, 5 cups water, and salt in a pot over medium heat until tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Remove from heat and set aside. Keep the lentils, kidney beans, and any excess cooking water in the pot. The nice part about this step is it gives you time to measure out and have all your ingredients ready. I was talked in cooking classes that you should always do this, but Nexx will tell you I can be a little haphazard when prepping.)
  • Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook cumin seeds in the hot oil until they begin to pop, 1 to 2 minutes. Add cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and cloves; cook until bay leaves turn brown, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low; add ginger paste, garlic paste, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Stir to coat.
  • Stir tomato puree into spice mixture; cook over medium heat until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add chili powder, coriander, and butter; cook and stir until butter is melted.Stir lentils, kidney beans and any leftover cooking water into tomato mixture; bring to a boil, reduce heat to low. Stir fenugreek into lentil mixture. Cover saucepan and simmer until heated through, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Add cream and cook until heated through, 2 to 4 minutes.
Following the recipe was pretty easy, but I ended up with way too much cooking liquid in the lentils. We ended up fishing the lentils and some of the sauce into a pot with a slotted spoon. I'm not sure if that means cooking them a little longer or using less liquid; I will have to experiment.

I forgot the cream, but when I realized it, I decided we really didn't needed. There was a little creaminess from the butter, and that was enough. This came out delicious, rich, complicated. We served it with chicken that I sautéed with some curry leaves, a recipe that I am going to perfect when I get some new curry leaves. 

I'll definitely make this again, though probably not for a while because it took so long. The leftovers, on the other hand, can easily be microwaved and put over rice.

Questions? Comments? A good mujadera recipe? Let's hear from you!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

I only tweaked it a little: Cauliflower Soup with Chorizo

I've been a fan of The Splendid Table for over a decade. It was a Sunday tradition I'd listen to either on the way to gaming, or after I did grocery shopping when I lived in Tennessee several years back. Now, I try to catch it via podcast. I no longer have a car, so I rarely listen to the radio anymore.

Anyway, I have a ton of recipes from the site bookmarked, and what I made today immediately caught my eye when I saw it earlier this week. 

It's no secret I love cauliflower. I've roasted it, roasted it another way, and made a curried soup, just to name a few dishes. I do wish, however, that little bits of it wouldn't get all over the damn kitchen when I'm taking one apart. Especially when the kitchen has just been cleaned.

The ingredients list is pretty simple:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 6-OZ chorizo, cut into 1/4-inch dice (use Spanish-style chorizo in casing, not loose Mexican-style chorizo) (The package I bought was actually a little more than 7 oz, so I used the whole thing. It seemed silly not to.)
  • 2 Cups (2 – 3 medium) chopped leeks, white and light green parts only
  • 2 Teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 8 Cups (about 1 1/2 lb or use packaged florets) cauliflower florets
  • 5 Cups chicken broth or stock
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 Cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Toasted breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (I garnished the soup using dried cilantro because I somehow bought three jars of dried cilantro and it's taking up too much space in the the spice storage)
I've probably said this before, but when you have a recipe like this, start with the leeks. Wash them, chop off the stringy end and the dark green leaves, split lengthwise, chop, and then wash them again. The little layers inside leeks love dirt. Pat them dry with paper towels.

In a heavy pot over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until hot. (I was taught to put a drop of water in the oil and if it sizzled, you were good to go). Add the chorizo and cook, stirring, until slightly crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside. 

Reduce the heat to medium and add the leeks to the drippings in the pan. Cook, stirring often until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Add the cauliflower, broth, and 1 teaspoon salt. (5 Cups of water didn't quite cover my vegetables, so I added one more)

Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the cauliflower is very tender, 20 to 25 minutes (or until your boyfriend gets home; then about 45 minutes after that once you've turned the heat up a bit). Purée the soup in batches in a food processor, blender, or food mill. (Or use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pot. I love my immersion blender)

I didn't do the following step because Nexx doesn't like sour cream. Instead I added 1/4 Cup of heavy cream and 1/4 teaspoon lime zest. I also served sour cream on the side for me.

Whisk together the sour cream and the lime zest and stir half the mixture into the soup. Season the soup with more salt if needed and with 1/4 teaspoon or more black pepper. 

(Soup can be prepared two days ahead. Cook to this stage, then cool, cover, and refrigerate the sautéed chorizo and the sour cream separately. Reheat the soup over medium heat, stirring often.)

Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish each serving with a dollop of the remaining sour cream. Serve with small bowls of chorizo, toasted breadcrumbs, and cilantro for sprinkling.

I skipped the breadcrumbs and went for another option to add some additional texture. Multi-grain is all the rage (and my doctor says it does good things for my cholesterol levels) and I was able to find some multigrain tortillas. I picked up some of those and took a stick of butter out of the fridge to soften. I mixed it with about a tablespoon of garlic, a teaspoon and a half of olive oil, the juice of half of a lime and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. I buttered the tortillas and zapped them in a frying pan on medium-high for about a minute on each side. 

Now I'm finding I wish it was corn on the cob season because I have the better part of a stick of butter leftover. However, it's cold, and soup is good on a cold day, so I'll it a win anyway. Next time, I think more lime, garlic, and black pepper.

Questions? Comments? Friend me on Facebook (tell me you read the blog) or write them here.