Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Some Experiments

Happy New Year everyone!  I feel so excited about 2010 already.  Hope it's a good one for you all.  In the next few days I'll try to post some recipes from over the holidays, once I get some pictures together.  There was so much cooking.

Yesterday was my first night cooking in Halifax, and I decided to experiment a little.  I made my dal, but towards the end, I added some defrosted frozen whole spinach.  I only made 1/2 cup of dal and added 2 cups of water.  It was really good.

We ate the dal spinach with some chapatis I made with cracked wheat, and an experimental potato curry.  I've been meaning to use the cracked wheat since I had so much leftover from the amazing cracked wheat top knots from October.  I wanted to make a massaman-ish curry with potatoes and peanuts.  My betrothed was not so happy about this curry.  In his words, "it's not that I don't like it, I just don't like it." 

I actually really liked it.  It was spicy and peanuty.  You have to like peanuts to like this curry.  Try it and tell me what you think.

Cracked Wheat Chapatis
Makes 8 chapatis
Takes 2 hours (but only 30 active minutes)

1/4 cup cracked wheat
1/2 cup water
1 cup chapati flour (wheat flour)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup water

Place the cracked wheat in a heatproof bowl.  Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil and pour over the wheat.  Cover and let sit for 1 hour.  (While waiting you can make whatever you want to eat with the chapatis.)

Drain the wheat of any excess water and place in a large bowl with the flour, salt and water.  Oil your hands with ghee or canola oil and mix together to form a dough ball, adding more water or flour as necessary.  Place on a flour surface and knead until it is smooth and tight.  Let rest for 30 minutes while you are making other things.

Pre-heat a griddle on high.  Divide the dough evenly into 8 balls.  I divide the dough into halves, the halves into halves, etc to form evenly sized balls.  Using plenty of flour, roll into thin circles.  I recommend watching Manjula making her chapatis.  She's a pro!

Cook the chapatis until they are brown on each side, (they won't puff) and rub both sides with ghee when you take them off the griddle.  To keep them warm, place between two plates with paper towels on the bottom and top of the stack.

This is a hearty chapati that I really enjoyed.  I think this would also make a delicious cracker, and I am planning on making the dough again and baking it.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Peanut Potato Curry
Makes 4 servings
Takes 30 minutes

1/4 cup raw peanuts
1/2 inch piece of ginger, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
4 potatoes, chopped into 1 inch cubes
1/2 green chili
1 teaspoon sambhar powder, or other curry powder
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 inch piece of dried tamarind, available in Indian grocery stores
1/2 cup water

Boil the water and pour over the piece of tamarind to soften it.

Heat oil in a large saute pan on medium-high.  Add peanuts, and when they are lightly brown, add the ginger and garlic.  When they are beginning to brown (make sure your stove is not too hot), add the potatoes.  Saute for a minute and add the sambhar powder, green chili and cinnamon.  Squeeze the tamarind, mashing all the pulp loose with your fingers.  Pour the water only into the pan, saving the tamarind pulp in case you later decide the curry needs more sour taste.

Add salt (a half teaspoon for now), lower the heat to simmer, and cover for 10 minutes.

Check the potaotes for doneness (it will probably need 5 more minutes) and the sauce for yumminess.  It should be spicy, if it is not, add more sambhar powder or chili powder.  It should be salty, if it is not, add more salt.  It should have a little tang, if not, pour more hot water over the tamarind, let soak for 2 minutes, and add the juice back to the potatoes.  Add more water if it's a little too dry.  You want the curry to be saucy so you can scoop it up with your chapatis.

It was soo good!  The betrothed is not much of a food experimenter, so maybe after he eats it a couple of times, he'll like it better...


  1. How awesome is Manjula? I loved watching her video! I am not sure that chapatis are in my future, but they do look delish. The idea of making dal with spinach looks yummy. I will try the massaman potato dish but maybe add some coconut milk?

    Did you see the Minimalist riff on dal? I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, but want to:

  2. Make the chapatis george! not necessarily the cracked-wheat ones, but any others from Manula's website. They are pretty easy, and so good, and you will be so proud of yourself!

    I am not that interested in the Bittman dal recipes. I prefer my own...

  3. ugh rad how do i keep masoor dal from totally dissolving. why does this keep happening to me.

  4. I like for the massor dal to completely dissolve, you can't overcook it. If you would like the dal to still have a bit of bite to it, then I suggest reducing the amount of water you add, and lowering the cooking time to 10 minutes. Check on the dal, and see if it is to your liking.