My birthday was Saturday and my wonderful son and daughter-in-law sent me the perfect gift – a cookbook by Madhur Jaffrey, amazing spices and a gift certificate for cooking lessons of my choice at a local school. I adore Indian food so I immediatelyt started reading Jaffrey’s book over my morning coffee. Some women get seduced by a new pair of shoes. My downfall is cooking ingredients and gadgets. We have some wonderful Indian/Pakistani stores in Chicago and I have things in my pantry that caught my eye, but somehow never got used.
I came across Jaffrey’s recipe for Moong Dal and since I never met a lentil that I didn’t like, I kept reading. While, it’s true that the average American cook doesn’t just happen to have moong dal and asafetida in the pantry, I actually do. I’m sure that I bought both after reading some recipe and then never got around to making it. Well, I am making it now! Jaffrey serves it with Basmati rice, which I always have on hand and she mentions Lemony Ground Lamb with Mint and Cilantro. Coincidentally, I have all of those ingredients and so am planning a mini-feast. It’s only a shame that Frances and Matthew aren’t here to share it with us since I know that they would enjoy this meal as well. Andrew and I are looking forward to many happy meals thanks to our children!
Of course, if you are a vegetarian or a vegan, the Moong Dal and Rice together are a wonderful meal, perhaps with another vegetable dish added. This is real comfort food.
Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
1 cup (7 ounces) moong dal (hulled and split mung beans) washed and drained
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon asafetida
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin sees
1 to 2 dried hot red chilies (the short cayenne type) or ground cayenne pepper to taste
1 medium shallot, peeled and cut into fine slivers
- Put the dal in a medium pot and add 3.5 cups of water. Bring to a boil and skim off any froth.
- Add the turmeric, stir to mix and partially cover the pot. Turn the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 45 minutes.
- Add the salt and stir through. Turn off the heat.
- Pour the oil into a small, heavy frying pana nd set over medium heat-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the asfafetida, cumin seeds and chilies, quickly and in that order. As soon as the chilies darken (a matter of seconds), add the shallots. Stir and cook until the shallots brown and then quickly pour the contents over the cooked dal. Stir to mix and serve with the rice.
Lemony Ground Lamb by Madhur Jaffrey
Yield: 3-4 portions
2 Tablespoons olive or canola oil
2 2-inch sticks of cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 pound ground lamb (on the lean side)
2 teaspoons very finely grated, peeled fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/4 tp 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 to 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
Juice of one lemon
3/4 teaspoon garam masala
- Pour the oil into a large, heavy-duty frying pan (I like cast iron) and set over medium high heat. When hot, put in the cinnamon sticks. Allow them to sizzle for a few seconds, until fragrant. Add the onions. Stir and fry the onions until the edges turn brown.
- Add the lamb and ginger, breaking up the lamb with a wooden spoon. Stir and fry for about 5 minutes.
- Add 3/4 cup of water, the salt and cayenne. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan, turn the heat to low and simmer gently for about 40 minutes.
- Add the lemon juice and garam masala. The dish can be made ahead of time up to this point. When ready to serve, bring the mixture to a simmer and add the mint and cilantro, stirring through. Heat uncovered for about 5 minutes.
Serve with Basmati rice and the Moong Dal, Naan and any chutney of your choice. This can be wrapped in the flatbread and eaten as a wrap, with some chopped fresh tomatoes.