Are we really getting our share fare of Iron through our weekly meals? Are we not wrongly thinking that red meat is our only option and that veggies only bring vitamins and fibers? I’ve recently come across numerous blog posts related to the concept of Meatless Monday. If you don’t know what the Meatless Monday concept is, here it goes: it invites us – meat lovers – to skip meat one day per week and replace it with another source of protein that would come from a vegetarian type of eating/cooking. These blog posts are pretty easy to come by, as they actually are everywhere over the Web when you pay attention. I never did before – pay attention. But now that I’ve read a lot about it and that I’ve got to know several vegetarians with good spirit (including Sue from Sue’s Fabulous Travels who exposes where to eat great food in Australia and other places when you’re a vegetarian, among other travel-related interesting topics), I’ve decided that I wanted to explore further and give a try to some nice vegetarian recipes for a change. And I thought, why not include this challenge within my own World Food Challenge and cook a dish that would respond to both criteria, vegetarian and culturally new!
Today, for my World Food Challenge, I’m cooking a lighter version of the traditional Dal Makhani from India. With delicious Naans to eat with. Lentils are no one’s favorites (at least no one that I know!), but cooked with the right combination of ingredients, they can get rather interesting. Actually they also are interesting for their nutritional facts, as they bring a good amount of proteins, dietary fibers, and iron. Indian people not being too much of red meat eaters (no cow/beef meat in regards to religious matters, a bit of sheep or mutton meat in some regions of India only), they get their proteins from fish and chicken mainly, and now you know that dals (= lentils) contribute to filling their protein needs as well. What I like about this recipe is that despite the big number of ingredients that are combined together, this dish succeeded in still being vegetarian friendly in the end. Among all the additions, none is breaking the rules. Besides, it’s healthy and flavorsome, AND we could even add to it that it can be nice and interesting to eat it the Indian way, with bare hand (only the right hand, also called the “clean hand”, by opposition to the left hand that one shall only use in the WC), using the naans in place of a fork and knife.
- 1 cup of Lentils, soaked overnight (preferably the brown type, but you can use the blonde lentils if you can’t find the brown ones)
- (1/2 cup Red Kidney Beans, soaked overnight, should normally be included in this recipe, but I did not add them here for a lighter version)
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 tsp of sunflower oil
- 2 tsp of cumin powder
- 1 tbsp of curcuma
- 2 bay leaves (optional)
- 1 tsp of cinnamon
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 tomatoes from a can of peeled tomatoes with juices
- 4 cloves of garlic, thinly minced
- 1 tbsp of ginger powder
- 1 small hot chili, halved and seeds removed
- 1 tbsp of tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp of red chili powder
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 1 tsp of garam masala
- 2 tbsp of Greek yogurt (for a light version) or heavy cream (for the regular version)
- 1 tsp of sugar
- a pinch of nutmeg powder
- 2 tsp of coriander powder
- water as needed to obtain the desired consistency
- a bit of chopped fresh coriander for garnishing (or just several leaves of parsley)
- Wash the lentils and soak them overnight (minimum 6 hours).
- Boil the lentils with 4 cups of water and salt, and let simmer for a total of 25 to 35 minutes (check when it’s done).
- Heat butter and oil in a skillet with high edges.
- Add in the spices: cumin, curcuma, cinnamon, ginger and bay leaves. After a minute or so, add the minced garlic.
- When the garlic starts to brown, add in the onion and stir until the onions have begun to brown a bit.
- Add in the coriander powder, the tomatoes with their juices, the tomato paste, hot chili, salt, red chili powder, garam masala and let it all simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add in the lentils, with a bit of water as needed.
- Pour the Greek yogurt (or heavy cream) and stir in sugar. Let this cook on medium high heat and lower the fire when it comes to a boil.
- Cover with a lid and let it simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Finish off the dish by adding in the nutmeg and chopped fresh coriander or parsley. Serve hot with homemade garlic naans (or rice).
Interested in my world food recipes? You can check out my Cookbook by clicking here!
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi, © 2016 All Rights Reserved.