Friday, October 24, 2008

Guys and Dals

Veggie Garam Masala and Red Lentil Dal

Ok, when I went to look for an image of "garam masala", I came across a Bollywood movie of that name starring these guys:
Hilarious as "Mr. Hot" and "Mr. Cool" might be, the garam masala I was looking for more closely resembles this:

You can get your curry fix at pretty much any South Asian grocer. I mean, if you find an Indian store that doesn't sell curry, I'd wonder what kind of numbers game they were running in the back. While you're at the Indian store, grab some red lentils. These will be very small and orange in the package, and will turn yellow when cooked. I made a "Stoplight Curry" a few months back with these.

I have 3-4 kinds of curry powder in my cabinet, and some are better for certain things. There's one for channa masala (chick pea curry), a "Korma" blend (great in yogurt-based curry), a "Meat" blend I use for lamb, and one called "Brain Masala", which I have never sprinkled on actual brains but really like for all other purposes. Garam masala is a classic Indian curry flavor that is warm and satisfying without being hot, though you can make it so if you wish. I've bought curry mixes powdered and in jars, and both are pretty good, though you'll want to check how concentrated and spicy either one is before using.

Veggie Garam Masala

1/4 cup oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1/2 sweet onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup red kidney beans
1 tbsp garam masala curry powder or paste
1/2 cup lowfat plain yogurt
1 fistful shredded basil
Salt (to taste)
Black pepper (to taste)

Sautee your garlic and ginger in the oil briefly, then add the onions and cook until lightly browned. Add the peppers and cook togther until lightly browned. Add the squash, kidney beans tomatoes and curry powder, then stir to incorporate flavors. Cook together until squash is tender, then add the yogurt, and throw in the basil at the very end. Adjust flavorings with salt and pepper as desired. You might also like to add a splash of lime juice just before serving.

Red Lentil Dal

2 tbsp oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1 cup red lentils
1 tbsp curry powder (I used my "brain masala" here)
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp amchur powder (made from powdered green mangoes)

In a small pot, sautee the garlic and ginger in oil briefly, then add the dry lentils and stir together in the pan for a minute. Then add the stock and curry powder and bring to a boil. Lower heat to lowest setting and let lentils cook, stirring occasionally. If more liquid is required to cook the lentils, add it. Red lentils turn yellow and become very soft the longer they cook, and are great served over rice.

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