Moong Dhal (Indian – Style Yellow Split Mung Beans)

I found a bag of mung beans at the back of my larder from when I made Korean Nokdu Bindaetteok a while back and realised they were two months away from spoiling so I rattled my brain to what to do with them. Then I remembered that they are also used a lot in Indian cuisine and remembered a dhal I made a long time ago.

Dhal is a dried pulse (lentil, peas, and beans) that has been hulled and split. It comes from the Sanskrit verbal root dhal, meaning “to split”. Dhal is also the word given to the soups and stews made with these pulses common in many South Asian countries such as India.

This recipe involves using Tarka which is an Indian technique whereby spices are tempered in hot ghee or oil and then added to the cooked dhal, similar to the spanish way of cooking lentils .

You can boil the traditional way or you can use a pressure cooker which drastically cuts down on the cooking time. I always used to make it the traditional way but now prefer to use the pressure cooker method as it is much faster (30-40 minutes vs. 15 minutes).

Ingredients

2 cups moong dhal (Yellow Split Mung beans)

4 ½  cups water

½ tsp. turmeric

2 Tbsp. ghee (or mixture or oil and butter)

1 Tbsp. cumin seeds

4 cloves garlic, sliced

2 cm piece ginger, diced

3 dried cayenne chillies

1 fresh green chilli, halved

1 large tomato, diced

1 tsp. red chilli powder

2 tsp. kasoori methi

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp mace

1 tsp garam masala

½ lemon, juiced

Salt, to taste

N.B. The cup measurement is just a normal (at least for me) drinking glass, not the American measurement system, although feel free to go by that if you wish.

Method

1 Rinse moong dal in cold water a few times and let it soak for 30 minutes or overnight. Drain and set aside.

2  Pour water in a deep pan and add drained moong dal and turmeric. Bring to boil and simmer on a low flame for 30 – 40 minutes or until the dhal is soft. Alternatively, use a pressure cooker and cook for 15 minutes. Season with salt.

3 Make the tarka by frying cumin seeds in hot ghee and once they start to pop add cayenne chillies, green chilli, garlic and ginger and fry for 30 seconds. Add tomato, red chilli powder, cinnamon, mace, garam masala and kasoori methi. If it becomes to dry add a little bit of water. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes.

4 Pour this tarka over the cooked dal and stir well. Adjust seasonings to your taste.

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5 Add lemon juice and ½ cup of water, mix well and boil for 2 – 3 minutes.

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6 Add this point you can serve just like this, which would be the traditional method, or go rogue and blend it to your desired consistency using a hand blender.

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If I cooked this the traditional way, I find that the moong dhal doesn’t quite breakdown perfectly so I prefer to to use a hand immersion blender to reach my desired consistency. However, if I’ve used a pressure cooker, I never end up using the hand immersion blender as it breaks down to perfection and no blender or masher is needed.

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Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken)

Apparently, this curry was first invented in the Moti Mahal Restaurant in Delhi, India. This version however, was invented in Valencia (Spain), slightly less exotic…

I normally make this curry using leftover Tandoori Roast Chicken but you can of course make it with freshly grilled Tandoori marinaded chicken.

Ingredients

Leftover Tandoori Roast Chicken, cubed

Bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Sauce:

8 ripe tomatoes, grated

1 tsp. cardamom

2 pieces mace

2cm piece fresh ginger, grated

3 green chillies, sliced

4 slices butter

Oil

2 tsp. chilli powder

1 tsp. cardamom powder

2 Tbsp. honey

3 Tbsp. Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp. Kasoori Methi (dried fenugreek leaves)

Method

1 Melt half of the butter in oil and then add the cardamom, mace, garlic and grated tomatoes. Cook down for 5-8 minutes and then blend into a smooth sauce.

2 Heat the rest of the butter in a pan and add ginger and green chillies for a few seconds making sure the butter doesn’t burn and then add the tomato sauce. Add chilli powder and salt. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

3 Add cardamom, kasoori methi, honey and yogurt. Cook for a further 10 mins.

4 Add Tandoori chicken and cook for 5-10 minutes. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander.

Serve with white rice or jeera rice.

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Tandoori Whole Roast Chicken

If I had a tandoor, I’d use it but I don’t so a western oven will have to do!

Who doesn’t love a good roast? If you have one every single Sunday it can become a bit boring so to jazz things up it’s good to spice things up a bit. This Tandoori Roast Chicken is always a winner on the table and I’ve never had any complaints; well, except for those in my circle of friends and family who are not partial to spicy food!

Ingredients

1 whole chicken

1 onion, halved

Tandoori paste:

4 Tbsp. Greek Yogurt

3 Tbsp. sweet pimenton (or paprika)

1 Tbsp. hot pimenton

2 tsp. Garam Masala

2 tsp. chilli powder

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. turmeric

2 tsp. salt

½ lemon, juice

2 cm fresh ginger, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp. oil

Method

1 Mix all the Tandoori paste ingredients together and combine well.

2 Pull back the chicken skin from the breast (do not detach) and make a few slits in the breasts. Snap the thigh bones (do not detach) so that the legs and thighs are exposed (sounds a bit naughty…). Make a few slits in the thighs and drumsticks.

3 Marinate the chicken with the Tandoori paste making sure to massage it into every nook and cranny. Pull the skin back into its original place and cover with more marinade. Insert the onion into the cavity and top up with more marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least a few hours.

4 Preheat oven and cover chicken with aluminium foil. Roast for 45 minutes. Check and pour the meat juices into a jug. Remove foil and roast for 15-20 minutes. Make sure the juices run clear as the cooking time may vary depending on your oven and size of the bird.

5 Serve with Jeera Rice or roast potatoes, Raita and Naan bread. Oh and don’t forget to pour the reserved meat juices over the chicken!

Tandoori Chicken

If you are short on time or you “NEED” a quick tandoori fix, you can marinade your favourite chicken part (wings, drumsticks, breast or thighs) for a short amount of time (or no time at all as it’s not absolutely necessary and will still taste good) and cook on the spot. Using smaller parts will also reduce the cooking time immensely and feed your craving.

If I am rushed for time I enjoy making (and eating) these Tandoori wings. Marinade the chicken in the Tandoori paste and cook for circa 30 mins.

Tandoori Wings

Chicken Tikka Masala

Even though Tikka Masala is of Indian-influence it is in fact quintessentially very British; it is even considered one of Britain’s National Dishes! Who said British food was bland? Obviously people who know little about Britain and its diverse multicultural society!

This particular recipe has gone through the mill so many times and after a lot of trial and error I have finally settled on this recipe for my Tikka Masala needs!

I make this curry with chicken marinaded in my version of a Tandoori paste as it gives more depth to the final dish. You can also use this Tandoori paste to make my version of a roast chicken or Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken).

Pimenton (Spanish Smoked Paprika) may not exactly be very traditional in this recipe but I like it because a) it gives that deep red colour without having to use artificial colouring and 2) because it imparts a slight smoky flavour to the meat which mimics the smokiness that you would get from cooking the meat in a tandoor.

Unfortunately, the photo I took of the finished dish does not show it in its full glory as I took the photo after eating the curry and serving it to my guests! All that was left to photograph was basically the dregs! lol

Ingredients

Protein:

2 chicken breasts, diced

2 chicken thighs and drumsticks, deboned and diced

Tandoori paste

4 Tbsp. Greek Yogurt

3 Tbsp. sweet pimenton (or paprika)

1 Tbsp. hot pimenton

2 tsp. Garam Masala

2 tsp. chilli powder

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. turmeric

2 tsp. salt

½ lemon, juice

2cm fresh ginger, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp. oil

Sauce:

1 onion, diced

2cm fresh ginger, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. Garam Masala

1 tsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. hot pimenton (or paprika)

2 tins chopped tomatoes

1 Tbsp. sugar

Extras (optional):

Spinach

Oyster mushrooms, sliced

Method

1 Mix all the Tandoori paste ingredients together and use to marinade the chicken. Refrigerate and leave overnight or at least a few hours.

Tandoori paste

2 Fry onions until translucent and then add the ginger, garlic, Garam Masala, cumin. Fry for a few minutes and then add the pimenton for a few seconds before adding the marinaded chicken. Mix well and fry until the chicken is no longer translucent.

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3 Add chopped tomatoes, sugar and water. Simmer for 45 minutes – 1 hour.

4 Add spinach and incorporate into the curry and then add the mushrooms. Cook for a few minutes and serve with Jeera Rice and Cucumber & Mint Raita.

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Jeera Rice

Jeera is Hindi for cumin so basically this recipe is cumin spiced rice. 🙂

This is my favourite rice recipe to use with any curry such as Tikka Masala or Murgh Makhani. I use one cup (any cup, as long as you use the same one to measure the water) of rice per person and the double the amount of water. So in this recipe I used 4 cups or rice and 8 cups of water. I am really bad at maths but even I can calculate that ratio!

Ingredients

4 cups rice, washed and rinsed

8 cups water

1 onion, sliced

2 tsp. cumin seeds

4 cardamom pods

1 stick cinnamon

2 bay leaves

Method:

1 Fry onions until translucent and add the spices. Fry for 3-4 minutes.

2 Add the rice and fry for a further 3 minutes.

3 Add cold water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add salt, cover tightly and simmer on medium for 10-15 minutes or until the water has evaporated and the rice is tender.

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Cucumber and Mint Raita

There are countless recipes for raita but this is my favourite to accompany a curry. All elements of the raita cut through the spiciness and richness of a curry.

I tend to use English Mint Sauce (yes, the type you traditionally eat with Roast Lamb) as it gives the dip that acidity it needs and also boosts the mint flavour. It is of course entirely optionally but if you don’t have any or prefer not to use any, do make sure to use some lemon juice or vinegar instead to give the raita some kind of acidity.

Ingredients

3 Tbsp. Greek yogurt

6cm piece cucumber, grated

Bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped

1 ½ Tbsp. Mint Sauce

Method

1 Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate until serving time.

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Curried Lentils with Coconut Milk

Ingredients

3 handfuls of lentils (I use Pardina lentils which don’t need to be soaked overnight and don’t take long to cook)

1 medium onion, diced

2 garlic

1 stick celery

Spring onions

2 Tbsp. Kasoori methi

2 tsp. curry powder

Ginger, grated

3 pieces of stem ginger (optional, if not add honey)

1 tsp. chilli powder

2 tsp. Garam Masala

1 tsp. turmeric

3 tomatoes, grated

Few squirts Ketchup (or tomato paste)

2 cups of Coconut milk

Method

1 Fry onions until translucent and then add celery and garlic. Add spices (curry, ginger, stem ginger, chilli, Garam Masala, turmeric) and then add grated tomatoes and ketchup. Mix well and add some water and the coconut milk. Season well.

2 Add lentils to the mixture followed by enough cold water to completely cover the lentils. Cook on high and then simmer on low for 30 minutes or until the lentils are cooked.

3 Add kasoori methi and spring onion. Cook for a further minute. Check for seasoning and serve.

Curried Lentils with Coconut