Monday, July 6, 2009
Moong Dal with Coconut, Ginger and Peas
the pic is a bit fuzzy but you know what dal looks like - mush!
In the past few years, I've become more interested in how certain foods and spices promote health in different ways in the body. While growing up, I followed many of my parent's daily regimens - like eating a few soaked and peeled almonds in the morning, finishing a meal with rice and yogurt, but I really didn't think twice about their significance. Apparently, eating almonds in the morning reduces acidity in your stomach so that you break down proteins better throughout the day and eating yogurt rice aids your body in digesting oily and spicy foods. What is nice about Indian cooking is that each spice that is used can be connected to benefits to the body in addition to making the food taste really good. For instance, turmeric, which gives curries that yellow coloring is really good for keeping cholesterol low. Who knew?
Recently, my doctor prescribed some antibiotics to me to lower the acidity level in my stomach. I am not one to treat an ailment with just medicine so the first thing I did when I got home from the doctor was to start talking to friends and family and research what foods could decrease this acidity. I found out that I would have to stay away from certain foods that I love - tomatoes, cheese, orange juice, french fries (NO!), chocolate to name a few. I learned that papaya, almonds, cumin seed, apple cider vinegar (wierd right?), milk, fennel, etc. are helpful in combatting acidity. I guess not the best time to start a food blog, but I was surprised to see that some of my favorite foods and recipes survived this test. In the next few entries I will share some of these.
I wrote this recipe down from my aunt's Madhur Jaffrey cookbook and have tweaked it quite a bit by adding coconut, ginger and peas and making lemon and chili optional to reduce the acidity. Rarely, do you find a dal recipe that cooks in 15 minutes so this was quite a find. You do have to soak the dal though for a few hours, but it's nice not to have to use a pressure cooker or slave over a pot for hours on end.
1 cup dry moong dal
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup frozen peas - thawed
~1/2 inch cube ginger - thinly sliced sticks
lemon juice (optional)
3/4 cup fresh grated coconut - I use frozen and thaw it out
Chaunk (spices fried in oil that you pour over the dal at the end)
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 whole dry chili (optional)
1/4 teaspoon of chana dal, urad dal, mustard seed
pinch of hing
Wash the moong dal in water, until the water is almost clear and drain. Add 4 cups of water to the dal and soak for a minimum of 3 hours. I usually soak this overnight so that I can just cook the dal whenever I want the next day.
Drain the dal and get 1 cup of water ready.
Combine coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne (optional) and 1 tablespoon of water.
Heat the oil over a medium flame and when it is hot put in half of the ginger sticks and a few seconds later pour the spice mixture from the cup and stir once. Quickly put in the drained dal and mix it all up. Add the salt and 1 cup water. Once the dal is boiling, cover it and turn the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. The dal should be tender. To this add the peas, coconut and ginger and cook for 5 minutes or so. If you want the dal to be thinner, just add some warm water while cooking. Turn off the heat and at this point you can add some lemon juice (I highly recommend this, but I just can't have lemons right now!).
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil with the seeds and optional chili. Let the urad dal brown a bit and pour this over the moong dal. You can also fry onion with this, but this adds acidity as well. Garnish with cilantro.
I like to eat this dal with rice and yogurt.