In order to attend technical training and get prepared for teaching a class. that year, I went to Canada in 2010. I made a lot of intriguing friends there and developed a fascination for everything about Canada—its people, its geography, its diversity, its architecture, its language, and its delicious food. Did you realize that I first fell in love with another country because of you?
When the instructors left for lunch one day, we ended up in what appeared to be an underground shopping mall. I waited in line behind one of the teachers at a food stand selling some honorific food when I saw rice because it stretches miles as an underworld of commerce.
Therefore, I chose the only item I could correctly pronounce: “Butter Chicken.” Alright, why not? I’ll give anything a shot once since I love butter. Can I just say that even though “Butter Chicken” didn’t contain any “butter,” it was still magical, and we performed THE DANCE, creating lifelong memories? I had a brief moment of solitude while seated among several other instructors.
At that precise moment, the only thing rocking my world was the sensation of spices and layers upon layers of rich, exotic flavors on my taste buds.
Where have I been without this meal all my life?
Then it was placed on this fragrant, light, and fluffy rice. It was undoubtedly my new favorite meal.
When I got back to Boca, I told my husband, who had previously discovered Indian food but have never really shared the pleasure, everything about this amazing “Butter Chicken” discovery.
I searched Yelp for the nearest Indian restaurant and discovered Curries and More in East Boca, where we had our Indian food. We had naan bread, masalas, curries, mango lassis, and chutneys there on our date night. We both got to experience a brand-new love affair with food.
This cuisine is so varied, flavorful, and rich. Every time, the depths of flavor in each dish killed me. Imagine me putting a spoonful of Chicken Tikka Masala in my mouth, closing my eyes tightly, sighing, and then grunting shamelessly. These adorable little pots were used to serve the food. There was nothing about that place that I didn’t adore.
They closed, but it’s okay because I finally had the courage to start making this amazing food earlier this year rather than purchasing the Butter Chicken in a Jar.
It seemed impossible to create the layers of flavor in this straightforward meal, didn’t it? To be able to cook this magically, you’d need a heritage-level culinary set handed down through ten generations or a treasured family-handed-down antique chest of exotic Indian spices and recipes. Right?
Only passion is required. An intense desire to produce the tastiest, tummy-tickling food that will warm your soul and your feet. In the kitchen, nothing frightens me anymore since I overcame my baking phobia last year (stay tuned for a future post on this). I’ll take on anything and master it. Booyah!
So what exactly did I do to master Indian artistry to this degree, if you will?
Google is a given! Did you believe that I took a plane to India and enrolled in a culinary school? I wish, but Google has been helpful.
When I did the research and discovered several fantastic recipes, I tweaked them and my foray into Indian cuisine was launched.
Naan bread, Chicken Korma, Butter Chicken, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Dal Fry have all been prepared. My favorite is that particular phrase. Dal is a type of cooked lentil that, to the British, might be referred to as “mushy peas” due to its somewhat mushy consistency.
When I first tried the Dal Fry, I improvised because I was overly eager and only had a few spices. (I excel at that!) And. It still turned out beautifully. However, three weeks ago Randy took me to see The Hundred-Foot Journey, so I made the decision to take this to a whole ‘not level.
I did exactly that when I went to the Little India Grocery in East Boca. sucked ham! I even invested in a pressure cooker, which makes me swoon every time I use it. You’ll need one of those along with the following ingredients and spices if you’re serious about cooking Indian food:
- Ghee (an Indian type of clarified butter)
- Kasoori methi
- chora and moong dal (yellow and green lentils)
- basmati rice (aromatic rice)
- garam masala
- kalonji seeds (onion seeds)
- cumin seeds
- black mustard seeds
- ginger paste
- garlic paste
- pressure cooker
- tandoori masala (a wonderful mix of spices)
- coriander seeds
- chili powder
And there’s probably a lot more to say, but I’ll stop here. It’s pretty adaptable because you can use any lentil and I’ve even used split peas to make the dal fry. I measured 16 oz of pumpkin to offer an additional layer of flavor. You may either use canned pumpkin or cut up the fresh pumpkin, roast it, and then mash it.
After giving the lentils a 15-minute pressure cooking, I heated some ghee and fried the cumin and black mustard seeds. The tomatoes and garlic/ginger paste were then added after I had sautéed the onion. After they’re done cooking, add the pumpkin and dal along with some more mother-pleasing spices like turmeric and coriander. Simply said, things become better and better!
Only the flavor of these rich, velvety, complex-flavored lentils can surpass the notable odors filling your home. My favorite dish was split pea soup, but this Dal Fry has overtaken it. If you will, it is the Michael Jackson of split pea soups. It has all the intricate layers of spices and that unmistakable fried, smokey flavor.
I cooked it with handmade naan bread and Chicken Tikka Masala. Why not take it all the way? Cooking Indian food requires a lot of dedication, and I admire the care, time, and love put into each recipe.
You can cook if you can make Indian food! So go ahead, but be aware that your kitchen will become a complete disaster. Even just for my Chicken Tikka Masala, I used nearly 22 ingredients! And if you decide to boil your dal in a pan, be careful because if there is too much water in the pot, it will boil over.
Since I didn’t soak the lentils overnight, it took over 4 hours to cook the Dal the first time in a standard 6-quart stock pot. I had to ask Randy to disassemble the oven door’s exit so I could clean three layers of glass since it overflowed so much that it leaked through the vents! Not good. Please use a pressure cooker and eat some of the most flavorful, palatable cuisine you can find.
You cannot speed this dish; it requires patience and time. Make sure the onions are cooked, the tomatoes are tender, and the seeds have dried. This recipe is ideal for Sunday afternoon or evening. Your taste senses are pleading with me to give them this.
PUMPKIN LENTIL SOUP – DAL FRY
- PREP TIME: 6 hours
- COOK TIME 30 mins
- TOTAL TIME: 6 hours 30 mins
- Recipe type: Soup
- Cuisine: Indian
- Serves: 8 minutes
- 3 cups of lentils/dal
- 16 oz of roasted pumpkin
- 2 – 3 cups water (for pressure cooker)
- 2-3 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp black mustard seeds
- One large onion, chopped
- Two tablespoons of ginger garlic paste
- Two medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tsp of turmeric powder
- 1 tsp of asafetida
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 2 tsp fenugreek/Kasuri methi leaves
- 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
- salt to taste
- 11/2 cup of water
- Soak the lentils overnight, then add the lentils to the pressure cooker and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You can also boil in the sizeable heavy-bottom pot, which may take 1-2 hours.
- Once the lentils are ready, they should be mushy and well-blended where they have no shape.
- Bring a pan to medium heat and add the butter or ghee. Once the butter/ghee has melted, add the cumin and mustard seeds until they start popping.
- Add the onions and cook until transparent.
- Add the ginger-garlic paste and the turmeric, asafoetida, and fry for 60 seconds.
- Add the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes until the tomatoes are tender and breaking down.
- Add the lentils and pumpkin and stir to incorporate them thoroughly.
- Add the water and continue to simmer for another 3 minutes.
- Consistency should be thick and creamy.
- Add the fenugreek leaves and stir.
- Garnish with cilantro leaves.