Tag Archives: dal

Indian Food Basics: Mint Chutney and Raita

We will be having friends over for dinner every Saturday (starting with this past Saturday) through June.  Binks said it’s great because 1. it forces us to keep our house clean and 2. we eat well.  Obviously – refer to above picture.  I also can’t wait to share some menus with you all.

When a good friend of mine came up from Oklahoma City to visit me, with her new boyfriend, I knew what I wanted to make them.  She and I frequently discussed and ate Indian food while I lived in OKC.  And, while you would think otherwise, one of my favorite Indian restaurants is in OKC proper.  Now, I didn’t know about the boyfriend so I decided to take my chances.  I’m glad I did.  And according to him and his plate, he was glad, as well.  I was especially pleased as he considered himself a sole meat and potatoes kinda guy.

I have made two of the above-referenced dishes (dal and saag), and will give you the remaining recipes soon (especially the butter paneer – heavenly).  

If you should find yourself wanting to prepare a full Indian meal, I’m going to impart some wisdom your way to help you complete your menu, specifically the condiments.  It’s no secret that Indian food can be spicy.  More importantly, with Indian food, you’re going to get a variety of flavor.  Below, you will find your usual accompaniments  to an Indian meal.  If you have been to an Indian buffet, you will have seen these for sure.

First, you have your pickle/achar.  What this is a preserved item with spices.  Popularly, the preserved item is a lemon, mango, or a mixture of both.  There are so many options to pickles/achars that it’s a magnificent condiment.

Second, the chutney.  Usually, from my experience, it’s mint.  And, traditionally, the mint chutney is served with North Indian (as opposed to South Indian) cuisine.  This provides a fresh and crisp side/condiment to a meal.  Comprised of only fresh ingredients, the chutney offers you a clean flavor to be used on appetizers such as samosas and/or pakoras.  I always enjoy using a bit on my rice, as well.

Last, but definitely not least, my favorite – raita.  As I said, Indian food is quite flavorful and in some cases, spicy.  Whether you use pickle/achar or chutney, you want to offer raita whenever you serve most Indian food.  The raita is the cooling factor in a meal and offers relief from spicy dishes without having to resort to water (which doesn’t actually make it better).

Mint Chutney

Ingredients:

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
  • 2 serrano chili peppers (use jalapeno for less heat, and also feel free to reduce the amount of pepper)
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 2 cup mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp salt
Directions:

  1. Add the garlic, ginger, peppers, tomato, and onion in a food processor and puree until smooth.
  2. Add the cilantro, mint, and lemon juice and puree until smooth.
  3. Season with salt.  Add more salt if required.

Raita

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (or whole milk yogurt)
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 tbsp finely minced cilantro leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste (Don’t use too much pepper.  I’d limit it to about a big pinch.)

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together.   Serve cold.

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Filed under Indian, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian

I Lied.

I Lied.

I said I was going to make naan.

I didn’t.

I made fried brown rice.

I said I would make dal makhani.

I didn’t.

I made “Everyday Dal.

Christin @ Purple Bird Blog requested I make saag aloo.

I didn’t.

I made regular Saag.

And, my MIL made aloo gobi.

I’m horrible I know.

I’ll make up for it.

I made rajma.

That’s one step above and beyond.

Right?

I’ll make it up to you – and me – with the naan.

I promise.

You can trust me.

;)

Fried Brown Rice Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice, rinsed well and drained
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or butter  (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1 bay leaf*
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick*
  • 1 tsp cloves*
  • 1 tsp black peppercorn*
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds*
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups boiling water – I start my tea kettle around the time I start adding oil to my pot

Directions:

  • Heat the oil/butter in a heavy pot until melted.
  • Add cinnamon stick, cloves, black peppercorn, cumin and bay leaf.
  • Saute over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.  (The flavors really will just come alive.)
  • Add rice and saute for another 3 minutes.
  • Add salt.
  • Add water.
  • Cover and let it cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until rice is perfectly done.   The water (after 20 minutes) should have been absorbed.  If not, leave it covered for another 5 minutes.  Brown rice does take longer to cook than white rice.

*Do not replace the actual ingredients with the powdered version.  You are better off leaving it out altogether.

Saag

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch of spinach, chopped
  • 1 bunch of greens (turnip or mustard), chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapeno or serrano peppers, chopped (please adjust based on your spice preference)
  • 2 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • salt, as required

Directions

  • In a large pot, add olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add onions, ginger, garlic, peppers and saute until tender.
  • Add the spinach, greens and a cup of water.
  • Cover and bring to a boil for about 10 minutes until the leaves of the spinach and greens are tender.
  • Take spinach mixture and pour into a blender (if you can’t fit it all into a blender, split it up into batches).
  • Puree until the spinach mixture is fairly smooth.  I pulse about 4 times for 20 seconds each to leave some leaves still in tact.
  • Return the mixture to the pot over medium heat.
  • Add salt to taste.  I usually add about 2 tsp and increase from there based on my taste.
  • Simmer mixture over medium heat.  The longer you simmer, the better and concentrated the taste.
  • Simmer for at least 30 minutes.  I have left it on simmer for more than an hour, and the flavor just intensifies.

Everyday Dal

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup dry brown/green lentils, rinsed and drained – I can’t quite tell if my lentils are brown or green.  It’s a mixture and the kind you get anywhere.
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp of ginger, minced
  • 2 jalapenos or serranos (again, please adjust to your liking)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 3 cups water

Directions:

  • In saucepan, boil lentils  in 3 cups of water over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils start getting soft.  Do not drain after.
  • In a separate pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add onion, garlic, ginger and peppers, and saute until tender.
  • Add turmeric, garam masala, cayenne pepper, cumin seeds and coriander.  Mix until the raw spice smell is gone.  Warning: the cumin seeds may sputter so be careful.
  • Add the spice/onion mixture to the cooked lentils.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Allow the whole mixture to boil/simmer for another 30 minutes until the water has absorbed more into the lentils and the mixture becomes thick (rather than watery).

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Filed under Favorites, Indian, Vegan, Vegetarian