Indian Vegetarian Dish


Yellow Dal is comfort food at its best, it is a simple dish but a staple in most Indian homes. Growing up my mum always cooked us Yellow Dal with Rice and it something we devoured. I’m so glad I’ve introduced this Yellow Split Pea Dal Recipe to my kids. On our meat-free days my boys are content with a bowl of steaming rice and dal.

The yellow split peas is boiled until it’s soft and it is then cooked with a variety of spices. The tempering of the spices is what takes the dal to a whole new level. My favourite way to serve this dish is with rice but you can have it with your favourite bread too.

Everyone has their own method of cooking this dish. I remember my mum spending hours tempering her spices and creating a delicious mix to add to her dal. I must admit I am a lazy cook, for me it’s the easy way out as long as my food still tastes delicious without the added effort I am happy. It is about the flavour after all, right?

We call it yellow dal due to the fact that turmeric is added to it, this is what gives this Yellow Split Pea Dal Recipe a beautiful golden hue. I find my dried beans and peas takes much longer to boil in Johannesburg, due to the high altitude. If you didn’t know this “low air pressure causes boiling water to evaporate more quickly in high altitude”, now you should understand why our dried beans and peas take longer to cook. It’s why I have invested in a pressure cooker, makes life so much more simple.

This recipe makes a great dish for vegetarians and you can make it ahead and freeze. My fussy family will never eat food that’s pre-cooked and frozen but I have frozen cooked dal in the past, heated and served it to them. They didn’t know the difference. My hubby even went to the extent of complimenting me on how delicious the dal was, or should I say “leftover dal”. I hope you get to make a fresh pot of dal and enjoy!

You may want to try some of my other vegetarian recipes from my blog too, here’s the links below: https://itsallaboutthekitchen.co.za/recipe/dhall/

https://itsallaboutthekitchen.co.za/recipe/sauteed-okra-lady-fingers/

My friend Sonila makes a delicious Yellow Split Pea Soup, so if you want to try something different check her recipe out at:

https://mediterraneanlatinloveaffair.com/instant-pot-yellow-split-peas-soup-with-spinach/

https://mediterraneanlatinloveaffair.com/instant-pot-yellow-split-peas-soup-with-spinach


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Yellow Split Pea Dhall Recipe
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Instructions
  1. Soak dhall overight or for a few hours. Add the 3 cups of water with the turmeric and boil on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker until it's soft and smooth
  2. Heat butter ghee or oil and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds. Once it starts bursting add spring onion (optional) curry leaf, chilli and onion and sauté until onion is translucent
  3. Add garlic and fry for a minute
  4. Add the tomato and cook on a low heat until the tomato is cooked
  5. Add the cooked dhall and season with salt, Add more water and bring to a boil, allow it to simmer on the stove for about 20 minutes. Water can be added according to your preference, if you prefer a thick dhall add less water, if you prefer it more liquid then add less water.
  6. Garnish with coriander
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Flavourful One-Pot Indian Dish

I guess the next few weeks you will hear my moans about home renovations. I didn’t fully understand the stress that truly goes with it until now. Despite all my running around and making sure we have a smooth transition into our new home I still have to find the time to cook. Curries are truly a life-saver during stressful times, it’s a one-pot dish and can be made ahead. It’s why I thought this Spicy Lamb Rogan Josh with a crunchy carrot salad will work well with my busy schedule.

Living with my neighbours so close by I am sure they must get that aroma of curry at 10am in the morning. They are either cursing me for making them breath in the lingering curry smell or just because they can’t have some. At least I don’t cook a curry everyday or every morning so neighbours please bare with me until the craziness is over. I love sharing though so if my neighbours do stop by, I really don’t mind sharing my Spicy Lamb Rogan Josh.

Indians are great at sharing, nobody leaves our home without eating something or taking a doggy bag home. It’s a trait I have from my parents and I love it. I do hope my kids can still carry that love of sharing in their adult lives. Although my 10year is quite adamant he will not share his food with anybody…….let’s hope that changes.

Rogan Josh uses similar spices to what we use in our Durban Lamb Curry, it is cooked a little differently but both are equally delicious. https://itsallaboutthekitchen.co.za/recipe/durban-lamb-curry/

This recipe makes an aromatic dish with succulent lamb as it’s simmered on a low heat for a long time, this also helps develop the depth of flavour. I know lamb has enough fat content but I did trim off all the excess fat from the leg of lamb pieces that I used. I used ghee and a bit of fresh cream for that added richness. It was mainly for the kids, my 10 year old will probably have it for every meal until the pot is empty, he loves any lamb curry that much, so I did splurge a little. I have noticed that the chefs at authentic Indian Restaurants use loads of onion in their dishes so for this one I added a lot more than I usually do.

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Spicy Lamb Rogan Josh
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MAIN COURSES LAMB
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Instructions
  1. Roast the cumin, coriander, cinnamon stick, elachie, star aniseed, cloves until fragrant. Remove from heat, cool and grind into a fine powder
  2. Heat the butter ghee and saute onion and curry leaf.
  3. Once onion is translucent add the ginger/garlic paste and fry for a minute
  4. Add the cubes of lamb and mix in the ground spices. Add the masala and chilli powder. Mix it all well and saute for a minute or two.
  5. Add the tomato paste and yogurt. Season with salt. Add a pinch of sugar if the tomato paste is too acidic. If you feel the lamb is drying up too quickly you can add about a 1/4 cup of water or slightly more if required.
  6. Turn the heat down to a low settiing and allow curry to simmer for at least 40 minutes. The lamb should be tender and succulent. Add the garam masala
  7. Add fresh cream if you wish and serve hot
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I did post another version of my Vegetable Breyani or Biryani previously. However, this South African Vegetable Biryani is a long winded version and I would say more delicious. It is worth all the effort you put into it though.

This flavour-packed rice dish is an absolute favourite amongst vegetarians and goes down a treat even with meat-eaters. I call this South African Vegetable Biryani my “wedding version” as it tastes just like the one that was served at Indian weddings.  Especially if it’s accompanied by Dhall, you can double the recipe here, and a crunchy carrot salad. In South Africa Vegetable Biryani is typically served with dhall, do try it and you will thank me.

My list of spices may seem like a lot but it is these long list of spices that brings this delectable recipe together. South African Vegetable Biryani is a bold and flavorful dish. If it’s too spicy for you then you can always cool it down with some yogurt or raita. Lots of different vegetable can be used to create this dish but I prefer to use firm vegetable. There’s nothing worse than a mushy biryani. You have to be careful not to overcook your rice too.

Cooking the Biryani in the oven for an hour definitely keeps the grains whole and separated. I find that I am more in control of my cooking when it’s cooked in the oven. Biryani can easily scorch on the stovetop, if you not careful and it can be easily overcooked too. Rice is usually half-cooked before being added to the spiced veggies and you can add some turmeric or a little sprinkling of egg-yellow food colouring for the yellow colour. I love the addition of potatoes and you can steam and fry your potatoes. This method keeps the potatoes whole and speeds up the cooking process.


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South African Vegetable Biryani

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Instructions
  1. Cook the rice together with the elachie, cinnamon stick, some salt and turmeric (only if you not using food colouring) and set aside. If you are using food colouring sprinkle some over the rice but do not mix yet.

  2. Steam potatoes for a few minutes until almost cooked, season with some salt and shallow fry. Set aside

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon vegetable or light olive oil. Add the cumin seeds and once it starts to burst add the cinnamon stick, black cardamom, star aniseed. Once fragrant add the bay leaf and onion together with the thyme and curry leaf

  4. Once onion is translucent add the ginger/garlic paste and fry for a minute

  5. Add the ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, soomph, chilli powder and masala. Add a few drops of water and cook for a couple of minutes

  6. Add the vegetable, mix well. Season with salt. Cover and cook on medium heat. After 5 minutes add the mint and tomatoes. If your vegetable is drying up too quickly add some water and lower the temperature until the vegetable is cooked and tender.

  7. Add the rice and potatoes to the veggies. Mix it all together. Add a cup and a half of water. Scatter the cubes of butter over the rice and cook in the oven at 180 degrees celcius for 1 to 1&1/2 hours.


Recipe Notes

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For the vegetable, you can steam it for a few minutes until it's tender or you can cook it from scratch with the spices. I did steam my vegetable before adding to my spices. When adding the food colouring to the rice let is stand for a few minutes before using a fork to mix the colouring into the rice, this way it you will create little specks of colour in the rice. Do not substitute the butter with margarine, the flavour will definitely not be the same.


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Vegetable Makhani is similar to Butter Chicken as it’s exactly the same sauce that’s used minus the chicken. It consists of a rich, creamy sauce and cashew nut paste can be added to the sauce but I prefer not to add it, it’s because it feels rather strange adding nuts and fruit to my curries. I grew up eating South African Indian food which is never cooked with any nuts or fruit so I’m not about to start now, well maybe I’m just not that adventurous. All the same this Vegetable Makhani is still absolutely delicious without the nuts.

I remember eating this dish at an authentic Indian restaurant here in Johannesburg and it was the most delicious vegetarian dish I have ever eaten, however I think they got a new chef at the restaurant and it never tasted the same again. So I thought I will try making some myself and I think this recipe is as close to the real thing. It has the right balance of spices and a hint of sweetness, I never liked a sweet curry but these authentic creamy sauces does need that hint of sweetness, it makes all the difference.

You can add any vegetable you want to this dish but I think firmer vegetable works better, it doesn’t get all mushy in the sauce and you can add paneer. I prefer making my own , you can totally omit the spices if you are using my recipe for Spicy Paneer

There’s nothing better than eating this curry with rice or  freshly made naan bread, it’s wonderful to soak up all that sauce, I’m drooling just thinking about it. I prefer to steam my vegetable before adding it to the sauce and I think this is a quick and easy way too. You can add vegetable according to the amount of  sauce you prefer in your curry, if you want a whole lot of sauce then add less vegetable but if you want less sauce you can add more vegetable. I add about 2-3 cups of vegetable together with a little bit of paneer.

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Easy Vegetable Makhani
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Instructions
  1. Steam your vegetable for a few minutes until cooked and set aside
  2. Heat oil and add cumin seeds. Once the seeds start to burst add the bay leaf and onion. Sauté the onion until it's translucent. Add the ginger/garlic paste and fry for a minute.
  3. Add the ground cumin, coriander, chilli powder, masala and turmeric. Cook for 2 minutes, it will form a thick paste, add a few drops of water to prevent it from burning
  4. Add tomatoes and yogurt. Season with salt and add the sugar. Cover and simmer on low heat until the tomatoes are cooked, the oil will surface to the top when it is ready.
  5. At this stage remove the bay leaf and blend the sauce until it's smooth. add it back to the pan and add the fresh cream together with the fenugreek leaves, crush this between our fingers and then add it. Add your vegetable and if you are using paneer, you can fry it in a little butter or oil and add it to the sauce. Add garam masala and serve hot with naan bread or rice
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Who doesn’t love Butter Chicken, it is one of the most popular Indian dishes and just the mention of it gets everyone salivating. My kids absolutely love Butter Chicken, although I had to stop making it for a while because they had too much of it and didn’t want to hear the word butter chicken. Now that they’ve had a break they are happy to eat it again and this time it was super-delicious. I’ve created many versions of this recipe and I was never totally satisfied so I’m constantly tweaking my recipe until I know it’s perfect.  I’m hoping this is my final tweak as this recipe couldn’t be more perfect. I must have tried making a hundred different versions, just kidding…well not exactly a hundred but enough to make me crazy. I’ve cooked this chicken dish for all my family and friends and everyone loves it and I’m also sure everyone’s had a different version of this recipe.

I think it’s a really simple dish to prepare and even the most novice cook can make this dish with ease, especially if you have the right recipe and all the ingredients. As I always say freshly roasted and ground spices are the best so if you do have the time it will be worth it. I also love using fresh tomatoes but here in Johannesburg we don’t always get the kind of tomatoes I use in my cooking so I have to sometimes settle for canned tomatoes.

I don’t always use butter when cooking my sauce as the cream adds enough creamy, richness to the dish. However, everybody prefers to cook this dish their way so if you prefer butter or ghee over oil feel free to use it.  This recipe seems to have tick all the boxes for now, although I could change my mind in a few months. I am really indecisive, ask my hubby that sometimes goes shopping with me, my indecisiveness may lead me to create another version of this dish. So if I post another recipe in a few months don’t be too surprised. If you’re looking for a vegetarian dish with the same sort of creamy, delicious sauce then you’ve got to try my Paneer Makhani

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Butter Chicken
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Instructions
  1. Marinate the chicken with the Tandoori marinade and yogurt and refrigerate for an hour or overnight
  2. Heat oil and add cumin seeds, fry until it starts to burst. Add bay leaf and onion. Sauté until onion is translucent.
  3. Add ginger/garlic paste and fry for a further minute.
  4. Add turmeric, ground cumin, coriander, Kashmiri chilli powder, masala. Mix well and cook the paste for 2 minutes. Add a few drops of water to prevent scorching
  5. Add the tomatoes, season with salt. Add sugar. Cover and simmer on low heat until tomatoes are cooked, about 20 minutes
  6. Whilst the sauce is cooking you can flash fry the chicken or pop it into the oven using the grill function just until it browns. Do not overcook your chicken if using breasts. Set aside
  7. Once the tomatoes are cooked, crush the fenugreek leaves in your hands and add it to the sauce together with the garam masala and cream. Use a stick blend and blend the sauce until it's smooth and creamy
  8. Add the chicken and let it heat through. Switch off the stove and let the chicken cook through in the sauce. Serve with roti, basmati rice or naan bread
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Doesn’t it feel great when you have a little pampering done, today was my day. I decided to colour my hair, do my nails, have some waxing done I feel like a million dollars. It’s amazing what a little bit of TLC can do for your spirits. Sometimes as moms we get so caught up with our families needs, that we forget to spoil ourselves a little. Normally I would first try to sort my dinner menu so my family don’t go starving but today I put myself first and that felt wonderful.

Try it sometime ladies,  if you having a bad day trying soaking in a bath with your favourite scented candles, your favourite book, have a pedi done or get your hair done. Put on your favourite lipstick and your favourite pair of shoes, I promise it’s all you need to lift your spirits.

Well seeing I used most of my morning pampering myself I had to try to make a very quick dinner, something that we can heat and eat. What better than palak paneer with yeast free naan bread, who said you couldn’t have a restaurant quality dish in an hour? I will post my recipe for yeast free naan bread very soon. This dish is healthy, it’s delicious and it’s super easy to prepare. A few of the health benefits is that it improves blood glucose levels, boosts bone health and it’s rich in potassium and iron. So here’s just a few reasons why you should eat more spinach.

I think my first choice is roti or naan bread with any Indian curry,  but I suppose rice works well too. Naan bread is easily accessible in most major grocery stores too so if you really crave some just pop into your local supermarket, you will be sure to find some.

I did not add cream to my dish although often I do so feel free to use it or totally omit it if you wish. As usual please use more or less chilli, according to your preference, as you all know I always prefer more. I did not fry my paneer like I usually do as I was trying to make a dish with minimal effort so if you have time you can brown your paneer in a little butter and then add it to your spinach. You can use store-bought paneer or if you can use my recipe for Spicy Paneer and omit the spices.

 

 

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Palak Paneer
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Prep Time 4
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Instructions
  1. Blend the onion, chilli and ginger/garlic into a smooth paste and set aside
  2. Rinse spinach well and pour a kettle of boiling water over it until it wilts. Rinse immediately under cold water and use a stick blender and blend it until smooth
  3. Heat oil, add the cumin seeds and fry until it bursts. Add the onion mixture and saute until the onion is translucent. Add the chiil powder, ground cumin and turmeric. Fry for a minute. Add the yogurt and mix well
  4. Add the blended spinach, season with salt and cook until it heats through. Add the garam masala and paneer. If you using cream you can add it now. Serve hot with naan bread, roti or rice
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Finally, my day is looking brighter after a not so great start this morning.  But I’m going to let bygones be bygones and not talk about my “eventful” morning as I don’t want to jinx my bright and sunny afternoon.

It’s a beautiful sunny, perfect beach kinda day in Johannesburg today. But we not so lucky, there is no beach in this city of gold, we can dream right?  Not really a day for curry, not that it matters much to me  as I can eat curry any day. I must admit I didn’t really plan a menu for today and just whipped a dish with veggies I had in my refrigerator .I rarely mix my veggies unless it is a Veg Breyani, with my picky eaters I think one veggie at a time is enough for they eye.

This is a simple, healthy curry dish. You can add all in one pot and let it simmer away, absolutely no fuss. If you want a richer, creamier curry you can add some cream to it.  I added a little extra masala and chilli powder as I like a bit of heat to my curries but please feel free to tone it down if you prefer a milder curry. I also tried to keep it simple, veg curries are normally uncomplicated in terms of spices and I prefer it this way.  You can use any veggie you prefer, I used carrots, green beans, barlotti beans and my favourite, potatoes. I prefer veggies with a bit of crunch, rather than ones that can get mushy quite quickly.

Can be served with rice or roti.

 

 

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Mixed Veg Curry
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Instructions
  1. Chop up vegetable and set aside.
  2. Heat oil, add cumin seeds. Once seeds start to burst add curry leaf and onion and fry until onion is slightly brown.
  3. Add ginger/garlic paste and fry for a mijnute
  4. Add turmeric, chilli powder and masala. Fry for a minute, add a few drops of water if required. Add tomatoes and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes
  5. Add vegetable, season with salt and cover and simmer on low heat. After 5 minutes add about a cup of water, you may not need a whole cup if you are using veggies that cook quickly. Also consider the potatoes you are using as some cook much softer and faster than others and in this instance may also use less water. You don't want a watery curry, you can always add more water halfway through cooking if required.,
  6. Once vegetable is tender and cooked, add garam masala
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This dish is typically served with veg breyani, there are different variations to cook dhall but this particular recipe has masala as one of the ingredients. Most South Indians would probably cook it this way. I am South Indian and Mickesh is North Indian, when  I sometimes cook a South Indian recipe he would think I’m crazy, there are not many differences between the South Indian and North Indian way of cooking in South Africa, flavours and ingredients are fairly similar. However, South  Indians do like their dishes with a lot more spice. Talking about North and South  I think with our diverse culture in South African there are some people who are still confused about language, religion and heritage.  Hindu is a religion and Tamil/Telegu and any other language that Indians speak is just a language, it can be annoying when people refer to South Indians as Tamil or North Indians as Hindi, we are not Tamil nor Hindi, this is a language not our heritage. Now that I’ve got that off my chest…this type of dhall was typically served at Indian weddings and functions, with the new generation not so much. It was also a staple in many Indian homes, my kids still love it with rice but I cook it a little differently if I’m not serving it with Breyani.

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Dhall
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Prep Time 1 hour
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Prep Time 1 hour
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Instructions
  1. Wash the split peas well, rinse it a few times until the water runs clear. You can also soak your dhall for a few hours before boiling but not necessary. Add dhall, turmeric and some salt with 2 cups of water to a saucepan and cook until soft, I prefer mine really mushy but if you are happy with it a little grainy that's fine too.
  2. In a separate pan heat oil, add the mustard seeds and cumin. As soon as the seeds start popping add your onion, dry chilli and curry leaf. Saute until onion is a little brown.
  3. Add garlic and fry for a minute. Add masala and garam masala. Fry for a minute and then add the tomato. You can add a few drops of water, cover and cook on a low heat until tomatoes are cooked.
  4. Add the cooked split peas and let it simmer on a low heat until dhall thickens, you can check the consistency as it cooks and add more water based on your preference.
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