TO GHEE OR NOT TO GHEE
Just like everything else we consumers consume; technology; clothes; cars - food also comes in and out of fashion. In the 70's we drove cars like the Cortina or the Capri (with some of us painting a large white stripe down the side á la Starsky & Hutch 😛) we ate prawn cocktail, black forest gateau and wore flares. The 80's brought us yuppies, big hair and the emergence of Pizza Hut, yeeeahhh, I love a good pizza. I could go on and go through every decade but you know where I am coming from?.. So, what does 2020 bring us - who would have thought that Channel face masks would be trending? Well, despite us living in these unprecedented times, in terms of food, there is so much to choose from. Frankly we are spoilt for choice!
There are so many different food trends that are now in fashion but none more than vegan or plant-based food. Many of my friends follow a vegan diet, some do it for health reasons, some for ethical reasons and some, like my daughter (Sherine), when she feels like she needs a bit of a cleanse. She calls herself a flexible vegan or 'Flegan'. When I first heard the term, I thought she was talking about a baddy from Star Trek!..Original series of course. O.K I may be jesting but Sherine often says that she feels healthier when eating a vegan diet, her skin glows and she seems to have a lot more energy. The good thing is - Indian food lends itself so well to vegetarianism and veganism so when Sherine comes to visit, there is so much I can cook for her, to be honest the choice is endless.
Allow me to elaborate. There are the snacks such VEGETABLE SAMOSA and CHAAT, then of course there are ONION BHAJIS, which are not only vegan but also gluten-free. Bhajis can also be made using vegetables such as SPINACH, CAULIFLOWER, PEPPERS and even CABBAGE. With main dishes, you can add most almost any vegetable to a masala sauce, e.g. OKRA, CHICK PEAS, AUBERGINE, COURGETTE etc. Then there is the huge range of daals, for example, TARKA DAAL, DAAL MAKHANI, URID DAAL to GREEN DAAL etc. Then we have authentic pilau rice dishes such as CHICK PEA PILAU and ALOO MATTER PILAU (Peas & Potatoes), which are traditionally made by caramelising onions and adding a GARAM MASALA to make a flavoursome vegetarian stock. Finally we have our breads, like NAAN'S and CHAPATTIS...Gosh, just writing this blog has reaffirmed just how much choice their actually is.
I myself am a huge fan of Tarka Daal - I am being kind to my body at the moment, so I make it with extra TURMERIC, CORIANDER and GARLIC (all ingredients which have huge health benefits and even better are all available at SaveCo online). I make a large batch, pop it into a plastic container and it will happily sit in the fridge for up to 4 days with no change to the flavour, in fact, it always tastes better the day after which is the case for most curries and masala dishes. Mainly due to the fact that spice is a preservative and that's exactly what it does - preserve the food.
Once you have mastered the technique of making a TARKA DAAL with red split lentils, you can experiment with different lentils. Watch my video for extra hints and tips https://youtu.be/smIMmZYVH0E. My Tarka Daal is light and easy on the tummy...It's my go-to dish when I have over-indulged. Enjoy it with hot chappattis, boiled rice or just as a soup. My mum used to add a little butter to daal or sometimes GHEE (purified butter). Personally, I am on the fence as to whether I like the flavour of ghee in my daal. I am more of a butter kind of gal. So, if you want to try a plant based or vegan diet to stay healthy, try this fabulously easy to make and tasty recipe for daal.
The only real decision you have to make is whether to Ghee or not to Ghee?
RECIPE: TARKA DAAL
Serves approx. 4 - 6 people
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 55 minutes
- 250g Red Split lentils
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 medium sized onions – thinly sliced
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 cloves of garlic – crushed
- 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
- Wash the lentils using cool water, 2 or 3 times, this washes out the starch and then drain.
- Put the lentils in a large pan. Add 850 ml of hot water, salt, turmeric & chilli. Bring to the boil, cover & simmer for 30 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
- The lentils should look like a thick soup now. If it’s too thick, add a little hot water, and if it is too runny, turn the heat up cook for a few minutes. Remove from heat & set aside.
- In a separate frying pan, on high heat, fry the onions in oil until golden brown.
- Add the crushed garlic & keep stirring on low heat for 5 minutes, until onions and garlic have fused together. This is called the ‘Tarka’
- Gently, add the ‘tarka’ sauce to the cooked lentils, bring to the boil. Add the coriander, stir through. Cover with lid & simmer for 10 minutes.
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