Indian Dinner: Cauliflower Curry with Red Lentil Dal
My best friend at university was English-Indian and I was very fortunate to watch and learn from her cooking (and to eat it, of course). When I decided to cook Indian food for friends this evening, I looked at recipes but modified them based on my memory of my friends cooking. Tonight I made a curry with cauliflower, potato, chickpeas, and peas and a red lentil dal. The results were wonderfully fragrant and tasty with very gentle heat.
We started off with a new item from Trader Joe's - Tandoori Masala Papadums ($3). These tasty chip-sized papadums are spicy and really have that papadum taste.
The dal recipe is from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and is very simple. Cook a cup of well-rinsed red lentils in 3 cups of water and 1/2 tsp of salt, then add flavor with a puree of ginger, garlic, cilantro stems, and jalapeno. Add richness by finishing with a 2 tbsp of coconut cream (the creamy top of coconut milk).
The curry recipe was inspired by a recipe from the American Institiute for Cancer Research's The New American Plate Cookbook. Their recipe was a little low fat and under-spiced for me so I adapted it, as follows:
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp butter
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp minced ginger
1/4 fresh jalapeno, finely chopped
I potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 cauliflower, small florettes only
3/4 can light coconut milk
1 cup frozen peas
salt & pepper
cilantro leaves or chopped cilantro
Melt the butter with the oil and cook the red onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, coriander seed and cook 2 minutes. Add the curry powder, ginger, jalapeno and cook 1 minute. Add the potato, cauliflower, and coconut milk, cover, and simmer for 6 minutes. Add the peas, cover and cook 4 more minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve with cilantro.
The curry and dal were served with raita:
Raita adds a cool, clean element to an Indian meal. I made mine with plain yogurt, but you can also substitute sour cream or creme fraiche. Grate 1/2 an English cucumber (skin and all), mix the grated cucumber into the yogurt, and top with powdered cumin (you can also add salt, as desired).
The meal also included Trader Joe's Naan (Indian bread), mango chutney, and fresh, roasted peanuts. You can always substitute flour tortillas for the naan.
For afters, mango ice cream!
FOOD + VEGETARIAN+INDIAN FOOD