Monday, March 2, 2009
LENTILS AND DUMPLINGS (DHAL PITHEE)
I think this week is going to be health week for me. And you. I've been looking at vegan food blogs and all those healthy recipes have aroused a certain amount of envy in me. Envy at the way some people have the discipline and the appetite for vegan food 24/7, 365 days a year, year in year out. They must be a really healthy group of people to be living and eating like that so I thought I would join them. For a week. Perhaps.
Although this recipe for dhal or lentils is completely vegan it looks sooo good and yummy that I just had to try it. I got this from the Nomadic Gourmet (who is not vegan but has some vegan- like recipes on her/his blog). Thanks Nomadic Gourmet! He/she is a Grenadian/American and this is a Carribbean dish probably with some Indian influence. So being the ignorant cannibal that I am I asked the expected question. Where is Grenada? Grenada she/he answered is in the Carribbean, in between Trinidad and Tobago and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
That in turn reminded me of V.S. Naipaul who is Trinidadian which in turn reminded me of his novel The Mimic Men in which this nursery rhyme was echoed throughout the book.."Who comes here? A Grenadier. What do you want? A pot of beer.."
Since completing that book I was never able to shake off that little nonsensical jingle from my head no matter how hard I frisked it or how much water I dripped in one ear and out the other and no matter how hard I banged my head on the kitchen wall and the sink. So I did the inevitable. I googled and looked up the rest of the rhyme just so I could have some closure. And then one day, thank God, I found the rest of it which went like this...."Where's your money? I've forgot. Get you gone. You drunken sot! Well at the least I now know whether the Grenadier got his beer or not. Thank be to God.
Now back to the dhal... Ummmm...ahh.... yes.. I was attracted to this recipe because of the dumplings. I love dumplings. At least I imagine that I love dumplings. I've never eaten them before but by the instincts of the recipe junkie that I am I thought and I was quite certain that it was something within the periphery of YUM. So that started me drooling.
The ingredients were what I had on my shelf, in my kitchen cupboard and in my spice rack. So dumplings and dhal were what I made today. And it was yum. If only I had some Indian roti like capati or roti canai to go with it today that would have been even better.
Here's the recipe.....with some minor adjustments....
1 cup split peas or red or yellow dhal/lentils
1 tspm tumeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp meat curry powder
1/2 tsp whole cumin
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp oil
3 cups water
I also made some adjustments to the dumpling recipe by adding a teaspoon of baking powder to the flour. It was a little softer and ok but still not entirely satisfactory so I will be giving two dumpling recipes here for those of you who would like to try the second version which I had got from Betty Crocker's cookbook. It contains shortening and milk though.
The dumpling dough should be made first before the dhal.
1st dumpling recipe: (close to the original)
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup water, more or less
Mix dry ingredients and then pour water in a little at a time and bring together until it forms a soft but firm dough. Keep aside.
2nd dumpling recipe : (Betty Crocker's )
3 tbsp shortening
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes if desired
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Cut shortening into the flour, parsely, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, using a knife or pastry blender until mixture is like breadcrumbs. stir in milk. mix well and keep aside. This recipe yields a little bit more so you could halve it if you like.
The Dhal/Lentil curry :
Place the dhal/lentils, tumeric, ground cumin and chopped onion into a pot. Pour in the water and let boil for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft but still whole. Add salt.
Carefully drop teaspoonfuls of the dumpling dough into the pot over the lentils and cook until the dumplings are done. Maybe 15 minutes.
In a seperate small pot, heat up the oil. Add the whole cumin, garlic and fry till the cumin pops and the garlic soft. Add to the lentil/dhal and dumpling curry (don't omit this step because it makes such a difference and adds so much flavour). Stir and adjust for salt. Serve hot preferably with capati or roti canai.
PS : The curry may be adjusted to make it thinner if you prefer by adding more water.