Friday, March 24, 2006

Where is Punjab?



I own Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking Cookbook for a while but really never look at it much nor cook from it. Lately, I had discussions with Bryanna about several Indian cookbooks since I want to cook more Indian dishes. My husband’s favorite cuisine is Indian and as much as I cook other cuisines that’s the cuisine I cook the least. I took this cookbook out from my bookcase and perused it in the last few weeks as bedtime readings. I was interested in this particular one recipe: Punjab Five-Jewel Creamed Lentils (Panch Ratan Dal) because it seems so easy to make.

The author doesn’t really use 5 different lentils and beans but anyone can just add 1 more type of lentil or bean. The word ‘creamed’ can be misleading that this dish contains milk or yogurt but it doesn’t. She also uses the term ‘spice-perfumed butter’ but there is no butter or ghee in the recipe. So, it is completely VEGAN.

It was very easy. I made a few changes in the cooking method and used much less oil to accommodate my low-fat diet. I also made it easier by using my pressure cooker. I did it in a flash! Really! I started cooking at 6 pm and the dish was ready at 6:30 pm, the time my husband arrived home from work (he always comes at the perfect time for dinner).

We both LOVE this dish! It was very filling and satisfying. The spices were so mild that I thought this must be a North Indian dish. It almost taste like an American lentil or bean dish with a bite of cayenne but flavorful. South Indians would use more spices in their dish other than just cumin seeds. We were wondering where is Punjab? Like all techies will do, my husband fired up the laptop and googled it. It was a North Indian District! I guess just like where we are in the US, the Indian people in Northern states eat milder dishes than the people in the Southern states.

My changes are in italics:

PUNJAB FIVE-JEWEL CREAMED LENTILS (PANCH RATAN DAL)
Adapted from Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking
Serve 8

Panch ratan means "five jewels." The classic recipe calls for five varieties of lentils and beans to be combined and flavored with cayenne, cumin, and turmeric. The five seasonings and herbs that always flavor this dal are onion, garlic, ginger, chilies, and coriander. I have omitted the green chilies in this recipe as, together with cayenne, the dal tends to be quite hot. If you like a very hot taste, add 4 chopped green chilies to the recipe. Also, in place of yellow lentils and Indian yellow split peas, I use supermarket-variety yellow split peas, which taste like a cross between the two. Panch ratan dal is delicious and filling. It goes beautifully with brean and rice alike.

For cooking the lentils:1 cup yellow split peas (supermarket-variety)
1/2 cup split white gram beans (urad dal)
1/4 cup split yellow mung beans (moong dal)1/4 cup red lentils (masar dal) I used toor dal or pidgeon peas1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp coarse salt, or to taste I used 1.5 tsp6-8 tbsp light vegetable oil I used 2 tsp
2 medium-size onions, peeled and sliced thin
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp grated or crushed fresh ginger
3 medium-size tomatoes, sliced into 3/4-inch-thick wedges

For the spiced-perfumed butter:
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
2 whole green serrano chilies, chopped3-4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
  1. Pick, clean, wash, and cook the lentils(dal), using a pressure cooker with 4 1/2 cup of water and the 1/2 tsp turmeric. Pressure cook for 5 minutes on high and then follow by the quick release method. See notes below for conventional method.
  2. Add the salt to the lentils, keep the lentils on a very low simmer while you are preparing the following steps.
  3. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring constantly, until they turn light brown(15-18 minutes). Add a bit of water to prevent the onions to stick to the pan.
  4. Add the garlic and ginger, and continue cooking for 2 more minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the tomatoes, and fry, turning them carefully and shaking the pan, until they look slightly browned and cooked (about 5 minutes). Add a bit of water if it becomes dry and to prevent the tomatoes to stick to the pan.
  5. Pour the entire content of the pan over the dal and gently stir to mix. Continue simmering the dal while you make the spice-perfumed butter.
  6. Wipe clean the frying pan and place it on medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of the oil. When it is hot, add the cumin seeds. When the cumin turns dark brown (about 12 seconds), add the green chilies, cayenne and paprika. Immediately pour the entire contents of the pan over the dal, scraping the mixture out with a rubber spatula. Stir a few times, just to streak the dal with the spice-laced butter. Serve sprinkled with paprika and coriander
Notes: The dals can be purchased in any Indian market. To cook conventionally without the pressure cooker, it will take 25-40 minutes before the dals become soft.
Nutrition Facts(with my changes): Nutrition (per serving): 211.0 calories; 8% calories from fat; 2.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 447.1mg sodium; 581.5mg potassium; 36.7g carbohydrates; 9.6g fiber; 5.6g sugar; 27.2g net carbs; 13.2g protein; 3.6 points.

3 comments:

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Oh, I haven't tried that recipe yet, and I've had the book for ages. I'm going to try your version!

Dori said...

Hi Debbie. I stopped in to check what was "pho" dinner. I am still amused with your yesterday post ;-). Indian food is beginning to become popular in my central US area. I haven't stopped at a restaurant yet because I am unfamilar with it. Reading your blog will give me a good introduction for sure!

Spice Island Vegan said...

Hi Dori,

If you are not familiar with Indian food, starts with the North Indian style first. Some of their dishes have mild spices and not spicy at all. This culture has a unique way of mixing grain, beans, and lentils which I like. It is a complete meal (nutrition) and just add veggies.

If there is a restaurant nearby, you can try 'chana masala', 'dal makhani', and 'bengan bartha'. I started with those first. These are famous dishes in Indian restaurant frequented by Americans. Ask for the dishes to be prepared non-spicy.

The South Indian restaurant will be too surprising for people who are not familiar with Indian dishes. Although, I don't know anyone who doesn't like dosas, a paper thin Indian crepes.

Thanks for stopping by. SIV