Sunday, March 26, 2006

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!

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Blogger Fiber said...

The raita sounds absolutely fantastic!

7:23 AM  
Blogger SusanV said...

Everybody's making cauliflower curry! LOL I just bought two small cauliflowers in anticipation of making curry, but yours is the second blog I've seen it on in two days, so I'm not sure I can make it now without looking like a big copycat! Just kidding (mostly). Your curry looks delicious, and those papadams make me wish there were a Trader Joe's near here. Thanks for making me hungry. :-)

8:36 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hi Susan,

I just saw fiber's version - great minds think alike. I think its great when people do different versions of the same thing. I ususally make a curry closer to fiber's with tomato, so the coconut milk was a change for me.

I look forward to your version!

8:48 AM  
Blogger Fiber said...

I agree with you, Catherine. I love to see variations of the same recipe.
Your papadams have inspired me to make the hour drive to Trader Joe's this weekend to stock up!

3:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How interesting--it would not have occurred to me to add the spice and flavoring to the curry after the lentils were already cooking. Hmmm. That could speed up my own dal recipe quite a bit. I'm going to have to explore. Thanks again for great recipes.

8:49 PM  

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