Red Lentil Dahl

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Red Lentil Dahl and IdlisMeandering down the aisle at Trader Joe’s I found red lentils and absolutely had to make dahl.  My mother-in-law makes wonderful dahl, so I decided to make it on my own.  I found a recipe here and decided to try it out.  The result was an aromatic, slightly spicy, and nourishing meal.  Since I have been exploring Indian cooking I had all the ingredients in my cupboard, but you should be able to find these ingredients at a bulk food store or Indian grocery store.  The asafoetida will be found at an Indian grocery store – I have never seen it in the spice aisle of larger grocery stores.  Along with the ginger, asafoetida helps with healthy digestion.

To go with the red lentil dahl are idlis, which are a steamed moist rice cake.  They can be dipped in the dahl and are very tasty.  We had red lentil dahl as a meal, but it could be accompanied by other curries.  I didn’t make the idlis myself – we had some in the freezer that Jonathan’s mom brought to Windsor for us.  In some stores I’ve seen idlis sold frozen.

I enjoy the challenge of having at least one vegetarian meal per week, so this fit in perfectly with our weekly meal planning.  Lentils are a great source of protein and the dahl was very filling.  Jonathan said that it tasted very similar to his mother’s dahl, which is a huge compliment!

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups red lentils, thoroughly rinsed
  • 4 cups vegetable stock ( I used chicken stock because we didn’t have vegetable stock)
  • 2 tomatoes, diced (I used canned diced tomatoes, about half of a can)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (if desired, I forgot to add it in and was still happy with the flavour)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1-2 green chilies, chopped (more or less depending on how spicy you want the dahl to be)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic
  • ½ cup onion, finely chopped ( I forgot to add this and it still turned out well)
  • ¼ teaspoon asaefoetida (it is very strong so make sure to measure it)
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Small pinch of cinnamon
  • Small pinch of ground cloves
  • Small pinch of paprika
  • Fresh chopped cilantro for serving (I don’t enjoy cilantro, but if you do, feel free to add)

Instructions:

1. In large stock pot add in olive oil, spices, garlic, ginger and chopped green chilies.  Turn element on to medium heat and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.  If you have an onion, cook it now with the spices.

2.  Add vegetable or chicken stock and stir well.

3.  Rinse lentils, then add to stock pot.  Add tomatoes at this time.

4.  Bring to light boil.  Then turn down the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  The lentils will be puffed and the dahl will be thick.

5.  Serve with idlis and fresh cilantro if you choose.

6.  Enjoy.

IdlisRed Lentil Dahl

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Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

Sweet potato is one of my favourite vegetables.  I was rummaging in the refrigerator around lunchtime and saw sweet potatoes, so I thought I would make soup.  Fresh sweet potato, apple, baby carrots, ginger root and rosemary combine to create a delightful and refreshing soup.  The ginger, cumin, and crushed chili flakes give a light spicy flavour that is mild, but delivers a touch of heat.  More crushed chili flakes can be added for a spicier soup.

This soup is easy to make and extremely healthy!  I was reading through Chatelaine magazine and soup was one of their recommendations for weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.   Combine this soup with sunflower or pumpkin seeds, a twenty-minute workout session and you will be on you way to a healthier lifestyle.

Ingredients

2 tbsp of canola oil

1 shallot sliced finely

2 sweet potatoes peeled and cubed

Half of an organic apple – peeled and cubed

1 handful of baby carrots

4 cups vegetable broth

2 garlic cloves minced

thumb sized piece of fresh ginger root – minced

½ tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

½ tsp cumin

1 tbsp fresh rosemary

1/8 tsp crushed chili flakes (or more if you like it spicier)

Instructions

  1. In pot place oil, sliced shallot, ginger root, garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add chopped and cubed sweet potato, apple and handful of baby carrots and let soften.
  3. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Add in spices.
  4. Boil for 20-30 minutes or until vegetables have softened and will break apart with the back of a wooden spoon.
  5. Put in blender and combine with pulsing motions.  If needed reheat in saucepan.  Add fresh rosemary for garnish.  Then serve.

 

Minestrone Soup

Freshly made soup is a wonderful thing and I had fun making it this afternoon for lunch.  The minestrone soup recipe, I found online from the Food Network.  With my laptop out in the kitchen I read the recipe and began to gather ingredients.  In our cupboards we didn’t have crushed and diced tomatoes, but I was able to chop up some fresh tomatoes and add tomato paste.  I found the substitutions worked out well, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be eating an overwhelming amount of tomato anyway.  I liked the thinner consistency and more focus of the elbow noodles, kidney beans, green beans, carrots and fresh basil.  Soups are best when the fresh veggies, beans and noodles are abundant.  I’m not big on the broth part of soup, but this broth actually turned out well.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste and voilà – lovely soup.

The extra soup can be frozen so the noodles don’t get mushy.  It can be easily microwaved for a fast and easy lunch.  It’s hard to beat a nice hearty soup.  Salt content in a hearty soup can also be regulated when you make it at home, verses the soup-to-go things from the grocery store.  While I am on the topic of soup-to-go, maybe Mom or Dad will be interested in taking some of my soup to work for an easy and healthy lunch.  Dad swims every day at lunchtime, so perhaps a serving of vegetables would help him swim faster!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (you can add up to 4 cloves if you like garlic)
  • 2 handfuls of baby carrots, sliced thinly
  • 2 handfuls green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes (I didn’t have this so I diced 2 fresh, medium sized tomatoes and got rid of the seeds.)
  • 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes (I didn’t have this so I used 156mL can of tomato paste)
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup elbow pasta (after it was boiled my pasta was more like 2 cups, I love pasta)
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (it’s just for garnish, not mandatory)

* I didn’t have all the ingredients from the recipe I found online.  You could also add one stock of fresh celery sliced, 1 small onion chopped finely and more or less of the garlic or elbow noodles depending on preferences.  A can of diced tomatoes and a can of crushed tomatoes would have given the soup more tomato flavour, but the tomato paste and two freshly diced tomatoes seemed to be a good substitute.

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds.
  2. Add the green beans, freshly diced tomato and carrot and cook until they begin to soften, approximately 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in dried oregano, fresh chopped basil, salt, and pepper to taste; cook 3 minutes.
  4. Add the vegetable broth to the pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in the kidney beans and continue to let simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Cook the elbow noodles separately and add in for the last two minutes.  (You could cook the elbow noodles in the soup, but I find it adds to much extra starch.)
  7. Ladle into bowls and top with the Parmesan (if desired).

If you use low sodium kidney beans and low sodium vegetable broth, the Food Network has calculated the nutritional values as follows:

Per serving (2 cups): Calories 260; Fat 8 g (Saturated 2 g); Cholesterol 5 mg; Sodium 560 mg; Carbohydrate 37 g; Fiber 10 g; Protein 15 g)

Carrot Soup

Carrot soup is one of my favourite types of soup to make at home.  The number one selling point is that carrots are much easier to peel and chop than butternut squash.  Secondly, carrots are full of vitamin A, which is awesome for your skin.  My Mom’s recipe for carrot soup does not contain milk, despite its even texture and warm flavour.  Every year on Halloween my mom would make this soup before we went out trick or treating.  It was a nice warm soup perfect for an October night, and it’s orange for Halloween.  However, I enjoy this soup in any month of the year.

The family dog Beau also enjoyed this cooking endeavor because he got to eat some carrot too!

Carrot soup is versatile and delicious and was made with Ontario carrots.  The organic carrots at the grocery store looked a bit dry.  So when organic isn’t looking so great the next best thing is local.  Jonathan doesn’t know this yet, but I envision us growing carrots in the backyard of our future home.  Carrots are really easy to grow and are my favourite root vegetable.

*Important tip.  Make sure you double check the liquid maximum your food processor will hold.  I had to make this recipe twice because of a food processor spill.  This spill was fully cleaned up, for all my family reading this blog post.

Ingredients

1 Onion Diced

3 Cups chopped raw carrots

5 cups chicken broth

2 TBSP Rice

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1.  Chop three cups of raw carrots.

2.  Sauté Onion.  Simmer carrots and rice in chicken broth for ½ hour.

3.  Pour mixture into food processor and blend until creamy.

4.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.