Since we tend to cook a lot of foods that are within the same categories (i.e. Indian, Moroccan, etc.), we often come across the same recipe titles, but with slightly altered recipe instructions/ingredients. This dinner menu in particular, is a reflection of that kind of situation. It gives us the opportunity to try “new” recipes, in order to find the one we feel is most successful. In this case, it was a new dhal recipe and a new chapati bread. (You can find our old ones here and here.) These two recipes, along with the potato curry, came from one of our favorite cookbooks, Extending the Table. We weren’t surprised to find these in this particular cookbook, since it specializes in easy/quick/budget foods from around the world, which all three of these recipes reflect. We were particularly excited to try this new chapati because it avoided the use of Crisco, which our other go-to recipe includes. I have to say, that after trying the new version, I don’t think we’ll return to our lard-laden former chapati recipe! And the dhal recipe is slightly different from our other, mainly because of the omittance of tomatoes and the addition of some crucial spices. However, it makes all the difference in the world and we’re not sure which we prefer at this point-both have excellent flavor characteristics! If you’ve made either of the previous recipes (or are intrigued to now), I would give these alternate versions a shot as well. Allow yourself to compare/contrast them and let us know which you prefer!
Cooking Notes for Dhal: We didn’t really change too much with this one-the only thing the recipe didn’t indicate that we did do, was to run the onion/garlic/ginger through the food processor, just to speed up the chopping process!
Dhal (adapted from Extending the Table; serves 4)
2 tbsp oil
1 onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ginger, finely grated
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 cup dried lentils
3 cups hot water
1 tsp salt
In 2 tbsp oil, fry the onion, garlic, turmeric, cumin, ginger, and cardamom. Add the lentils, hot water, and salt, bringing to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove cover and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, about 20 more minutes, until lentils are mushy and thick (like refried beans). Serve with rice.
Cooking Notes for Chapati: We use a combo of whole wheat and regular white flour, just because whole wheat flour can be a little pricier sometimes. It also calls for margarine, but we substitute butter, since we don’t keep margarine on hand.
Chapati (adapted from Extending the Table; makes 8-10 pieces)
2 cups whole wheat flour (or 1 cup whole wheat, 1 cup white)
1 tsp butter, melted
Pinch of salt
1/2+ lukewarm water
Combine flour(s), butter and salt, beginning to form doughball. Gradually add the water, kneading until the dough is soft. Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for one hour. Divide the dough into 8-10 pieces. On a floured surface, roll each piece into a 4-inch circle, about 1/4-inch thick. Heat a heavy, ungreased frypan, then cook each chapati until it starts to bubble on the bottom (1-2 minutes), then flip it and fry the other side. Stack in a tea towel to stay warm.
Cooking Notes for Curry: There’s a fried, crispy onions and garlic mixture that the recipe calls for, that Will skipped out on. And the recipe calls for fresh tomatoes, but we used a 15-oz. can of diced tomatoes. Lastly, we chose to use fingerling potatoes, just to make things more exciting for us to eat!
Potato Curry (adapted from Extending the Table; serves 4)
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
3/4 tsp garam masala
3/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 lb. fingerling potatoes, halved
A few tbsp water
In a little oil, heat tomatoes, garam masala, ground turmeric, salt, red pepper, and parsley. Stir fry 2-3 minutes, until tomatoes are very soft and oil appears around edges of sauce. Add 1 tbsp lemon juice, the potatoes, and a few tbsp of water. Cover loosely and simmer slowly, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thick and potatoes are tender. Add a bit more water if necessary, during cooking. Serve with chapati and dhal!