Lentils and Pulses
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Technically, a ‘balti’ means a bucket. But this recipe uses four spices to create an exotic twist to a store cupboard favourite. It makes a change to traditional beans on toast and also makes a great breakfast accompaniment to eggs. Serves 2 1 tbsp rapeseed or sunflower oil a pinch of asafoetida (optional) 1 small onion, chopped ¼ tsp ground cumin ¼ tsp ground coriander A pinch of chilli powder or 1 green chilli, finely chopped 200g can baked beans Heat the oil on a medium heat in a frying pan or small saucepan, then tip in the asafoetida, if using. When it crackles, put in the onion. Fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously. Tip in the cumin, coriander and chilli powder and fry for another minute. Add the beans, reduce the heat and cook for 1 more minute. Serve hot with toast, wholemeal pittas or on jacket potatoes.
Dhoklas are steamed savoury snacks from Gujarat in western India. They are made from fermented gram flour or besan which is available these days from most supermarkets. Serves 2-3 350g gram flour (besan) 250g yogurt, whipped 1 tsp salt 1 tsp peeled and grated root ginger or ginger paste 2 green chillies, very finely chopped or minced 1/2 tsp ground turmeric 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp groundnut or sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing 1 tsp lemon juice To serve 2 tsp groundnut or sunflower oil 1 tsp brown or black mustard seeds A few curry leaves (optional) A few coriander leaves, chopped 2-3 green chillies, slit lengthways In a bowl, whisk the gram flour and yogurt together to make a smooth thick batter. You can add a little water if the batter is too thick. Mix in the salt and set aside for 4 hours covered with a lid. Using a pestle and a mortar, crush the ginger and green chilies together into a coarse paste. Add this to the batter together with the turmeric and mix well. Mix the bicarbonate of soda, oil and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add this to the batter and combine well. Take a square baking dish (10x10x5cm or 4x4x2 inches) that will fit into a steamer or a pressure cooker and grease with a little oil. Pour the batter into the greased dish and steam for 15-20 minutes or until firm and spongy. Allow to cool. Carefully remove the cooked batter from the pan and cut into 5cm (2 inch) cubes or pieces. Place on a serving plate. To serve, heat the oil in a small pan and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves, if using, and heat until the seeds splutter. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the dhokla. Garnish with the coriander and green chillies. They can be served hot or cold with coconut chutney.
1x 400g can of chickpeas 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed 2 tbsp tahini 1 garlic clove, crushed 4 tbsp olive oil juice of 1 lemon 2 tbsp orange juice 2-4 tbsp chickpea water 1/2 tsp ground cumin 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper ¼ tsp paprika ½ tsp chilli powder (optional) Garnish: black olives, paprika, 1 tbsp olive oil Drain the chick peas and reserve the liquid. Blend or mash the chick peas with the garlic, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, chickpea water, ground cumin and chilli powder with the salt, if using. Add about 1-2 tbsp or enough of the reserved liquid to give a soft dropping consistency, not too runny. Garnish with a sprinkling of paprika, significantly placed black olives and the drizzling of olive oil. TIP: You could use freshly ground cumin if you like (toasting the lightly in a dry pan before grinding will help to bring out the aroma).
In rural Punjab in northern India, al fresco eating mainly occurs in self-service roadside joints called dhabas, frequently by truck drivers and travellers. They always serve dal makhani. which is cooked on a slow fire, often simmering for hours until the lentils turn creamy and are well flavoured with spices. The dal is sometimes rounded off with cream and lashings of butter. This dish is traditionally made with skinned split black lentils but I've made this dish with brown lentils for a lighter feel. Serves 8 225g brown lentils 50g butter, plus extra for garnish or 3 tbsp sunflower oil 2 bay leaves 2 onions, finely chopped 4-6 garlic cloves, chopped A generous pinch of asafoetida 2 green chillies, chopped 1 tbsp peeled and grated root ginger 2 tsp ground coriander 2 tsp ground cumin 1/4 tsp salt 1 x 400g can kidney beans, drained and rinsed 140ml double or single cream (optional) 1/2 tsp garam masala A few washed and chopped coriander leaves, for garnish Soak the lentils in water for 20 minutes. Drain and rinse them. Put them in a saucepan and boil the lentils in 800ml water for 15 minutes until almost tender. Meanwhile, heat another pan large enough to hold the lentils. Add the butter or oil and tip in the bay leaves and stir for a few seconds. Then add the onions and sauté for 5-7 minutes until translucent. Tip in the garlic and continue to sauté for 2 minutes more. Add the asafoetida and the chillies. Stir in the ginger and the ground coriander, cumin and salt. Cook on a low heat for a minute. Pour in 800ml of just boiled water and the lentils with any of the surplus water. Tip in the kidney beans and simmer for 20 minutes more until thickened. Stir in the cream, if using. Dot with a little butter. Sprinkle over the garam masala and garnish with the coriander leaves. Serve with Cumin Rice.