Creamy Tadka Dal with Roti

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I loved the combination of textures and colors from the mix of beans in this creamy dal. The recipe was a “staff favorite” in Food and Wine, contributed by Antara Sinha. It was included an article titled “Good to the Last Sop: Cozy Dinners That Deliver Endless Comfort.” The original recipe includes instructions to make homemade roti to serve with the dal to sop it up. 🙂

We ate this dish with store-bought roti but I included the roti recipe from the original article below. I wish I had made the homemade roti because we tragically did not enjoy the store-bought version. (Homemade is always better!) I served the dal over brown Basmati rice with steamed spinach on the side. Hearty and delicious vegetarian comfort food.

For the Dal:

  • 3/4 cup dried moong dal (split yellow mung beans) (about 5½ ounces) 
  • 3/4 cup dried masoor dal (split red lentils) (about 5 ounces) 
  • 3/4 cup dried chana dal (split bengal gram) or dried toor dal (split pigeon peas) (about 5¾ ounces) 
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric 
  • 6 to 7 cups water, divided 
  • 1 ½ tablespoons canola oil 
  • 4 green cardamom pods, crushed, shells discarded 
  • 4 whole cloves 
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons cumin seeds  
  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)  
  • 2 medium-size fresh serrano or jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded if desired, and finely chopped (about 2 1/2 tablespoons) 
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped (about 1 cup) 
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish 

For the Roti:

  • 2 cups atta (Indian whole-wheat flour) (about 8 5/8 ounces), plus more for dusting 
  • 3/4 to 1 cup water, divided 
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • melted ghee, for brushing 

For the Tadka:

  • 3 tablespoons ghee 
  • 3 small dried chiles (such as Diaspora Co. Whole Sannam Chillies), or more to taste (I used Bird’s Eye)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

To Serve:

  • brown Basmati rice, optional
  • steamed spinach, optional

To Start the Dal:

  1. Stir together moong dal, masoor dal, chana (or toor) dal, salt, turmeric, and 6 cups water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high. (I used a medium enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low; partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until dal is soft and tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Add up to remaining 1 cup water, 1/4 cup at a time, until desired thickness and consistency is reached.

To Make the Roti Dough:

  1. Stir together atta, 3/4 cup water, and salt in a medium bowl. Knead mixture in bowl until all dry flour is incorporated, adding remaining 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed to incorporate flour.
  2. Transfer dough to a clean work surface; knead until stretchy and slightly sticky, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Shape dough into a ball, and return to bowl. Cover with a clean towel; let stand at room temperature until dough is smooth and matte, about 30 minutes.

To Season the Dal:

  1. Heat oil in a medium-size heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium.
  2. Add cardamom, cloves, and cumin; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds.
  3. Add onion and chopped fresh chiles; cook, stirring often, until onion is lightly browned around edges, 5 to 8 minutes.
  4. Add tomato; cook, stirring often, until tomato begins to break down, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Add tomato mixture and cilantro to dal mixture; stir to combine. Season to taste with salt.
  6. Cover and keep warm over low.

To Cook the Roti:

  1. Once roti dough has rested, turn out onto a work surface lightly dusted with atta.
  2. Divide dough evenly into 16 pieces (about 1 ounce each).
  3. Working with 1 dough piece at a time and keeping remaining pieces covered with a towel, shape dough into a ball. Dust ball thoroughly with atta, and flatten slightly. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a circle until uniformly thin and about 6 inches in diameter. Rotate the disk 90 degrees after each roll, flipping and dusting with atta occasionally to make a perfect circle. Repeat with remaining dough pieces.
  4. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high. Place 1 roti round in skillet; cook until bubbles start to form and bottom is speckled with brown spots, 30 to 45 seconds. Flip roti using tongs; cook until it puffs up completely and is evenly cooked on both sides, 30 to 45 seconds. (Small charred spots are delicious and totally OK.) If roti doesn’t completely puff up, pat the top using a clean towel to encourage it to inflate.
  5. Remove roti from skillet, and brush both sides lightly with melted ghee; transfer to a serving plate. Repeat process with remaining roti rounds and ghee.

To Make the Tadka & to Serve:

  1. In a small skillet, heat ghee over medium-high. Add dried chiles and cumin to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until cumin is toasted and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Divide dal mixture among bowls, and drizzle each portion with desired amount of warm tadka. (I served it over brown Basmati rice.)
  3. Sprinkle with additional cilantro, and serve alongside hot roti and steamed spinach, as desired.

Note: Dal can be prepared (without the tadka) 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.

Pressure Cooker Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani)

One more Indian dish to share… for now. 😉 This is another wonderful pressure cooker version of a classic Indian dish. A pressure cooker is a great tool to use when making Indian food.

This recipe was adapted from The Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook: Authentic Flavors and Modern Recipes for Your Electric Pressure Cooker by Archana Mundhe of Ministry of Curry. I used my stove top pressure cooker instead of an Instant Pot. I also modified the proportions and omitted the sugar.

I served this wonderful, saucy chicken over brown Basmati rice with warm naan and steamed beet and turnip greens. Full-flavored, fast and fabulous.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 T ghee
  • 2 large yellow onions, finely diced
  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, halved and patted dry
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes or tomato purée
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 T grated fresh ginger
  • 5 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp ancho chile powder, Kashmiri red chile powder or another mild red chile powder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut cream
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 T dried fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving (stove top: 1 1/2 cups rice & 3 cups chicken stock)
  • naan, for serving, optional
  1. Heat the ghee in a stove top pressure cooker or on high sauté in an Instant Pot.
  2. Add the onion and cook until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken, crushed tomatoes, water, ginger, garlic, Chile powder, salt, garam masala, and turmeric; stir to combine.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the rice in a separate pot. (If using an Instant Pot, stir 1 cup rice, 1 1/2 cups water, and 1 tsp kosher salt in a stainless steel bowl that will fit in the IP. Place a tall steam rack in the pot, making sure the legs rest on the bottom, and place the bowl of rice on the rack.)
  5. Secure the lid of the pressure cooker or Instant Pot. Cook at high pressure for 5 minutes.
  6. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then vent manually to release any remaining steam. Open the pot. (Remove the rice if using an Instant Pot.)
  7. Add the coconut cream, tomato paste, and fenugreek and stir to combine.
  8. Sauté until the curry comes to a boil and is heated through, about 2 minutes. (At this point, I removed the chicken and continued to reduce the sauce for an additional 4 minutes.)
  9. To serve: Spoon the rice onto plates and label the curry over the top. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with naan on the side, as desired.

Chicken Biryani

I am a list person. I have lists all over my house… things to do, things to cook, etc. I love a good list. (I especially love crossing items off of these lists!) This simple version of this typically complex dish was part of Bon Appétit’s list of the Most Popular Chicken Dishes of 2019. Bon Appétit loves lists too. 🙂

This dish is all about the rice, and I had some special Basmati rice given to me by a friend just waiting for an occasion to shine. Perfect. I loved the layers of flavor and different textures in the finished dish. It is loaded with spices, nuts, dried fruit, and topped with caramelized onions.

The raita and the chicken (in marinade) are prepared a day in advance. This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sohla El-Waylly. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in and modified the proportions. The creamy raita is essential to the finished dish. We also ate it with roasted cauliflower on the side. It was buttery, rich and delicious.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Onion Raita and Chicken Marinade:

  • 1 lemon
  • ½ tsp granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups whole-milk yogurt, divided (I used whole-milk Greek yogurt)
  • 3 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 4″ piece fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cardamon
  • 10 boneless, skinless, chicken things or 4-6 bone-in chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 lbs)
  • 2 dried bay leaves

For the Rice and Assembly:

  • ¾ cup kosher salt
  • 2 cups Basmati rice, preferably aged, such as Daawat (I used Aahu Barah)
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup melted ghee
  • ½ cup mixed coarsely chopped nuts, such as almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, and/or walnuts
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup mixed dried fruit, such as prunes, apricots, pineapple, and/or cranberries (I used chopped dried mango and dried cranberries)

To Make the Onion Raita:

  1. Finely grate the zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tsp) into a small bowl.
  2. Squeeze in juice from one half of the lemon.
  3. Add sugar, 1 cup yogurt, 1 tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper.
  4. Finely chop one-quarter of the onion and stir into raita.
  5. Let sit at room temperature at least 1 hour or chill up to overnight.

To Marinate the Chicken:

  1. Purée ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, juice of remaining lemon half, and remaining three-quarters of onion, ½ cup yogurt, 2 tsp. salt, and ¾ tsp. pepper in a blender until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.) Transfer to a medium bowl.
  2. If using bone-in chicken thighs, pull skin off chicken thighs and discard.
  3. Transfer the chicken to the bowl with ginger mixture, add bay leaves, and toss to combine.
  4. Cover with a plate and let marinate at room temperature at least 2 hours or preferably chill up to overnight.

To Make the Rice and Assemble the Dish:

  1. Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 350°, preferably on convection.
  2. Bring salt and 3 quarts of water to a rapid boil in a large pot over high heat.
  3. Meanwhile, place rice in a medium bowl. Cover with cool tap water, use your hand to gently agitate the grains, and drain. Repeat at least 2 more times until water runs clear enough to see your hand through it.
  4. Add drained rice all at once to boiling salted water. Initially the water will stop boiling and the rice will sink to the bottom. Stir a few times with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking, then stop stirring. After a couple of minutes, the water will return to a simmer and a few grains will begin appearing near the surface. The rice is ready to drain when the grains have nearly doubled in size, the water returns to a boil, and most of the rice rapidly bubbles to the surface. When you bite into a grain, you want to see a hard white core; just like pasta cooked al dente, the grains should remain firm. Depending on the quality of your rice, this can take anywhere from 3–7 minutes, so begin tasting the grains early. (I boiled my rice for 7 minutes.)
  5. Drain rice and rinse with water until cool. Set aside.
  6. Cook onion and ghee in a 4–6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until onions are golden and crisp, 8–10 minutes. The sides and bottom of pot may brown and even develop some char. Using a slotted spoon, transfer onions to a plate. (I used a 6-quart enameled cast iron pot.)
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low and toast nuts in ghee in same pot, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and darkened in color, 2–3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer nuts to another plate; set aside for serving. (I used raw slivered almonds and raw walnut pieces.)
  8. Transfer half of ghee in pot to a small bowl; set aside.
  9. Increase heat to medium-high and sprinkle sugar over remaining ghee in pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until sugar forms deeply caramelized clumps, 3–5 minutes.
  10. Add chicken, scraping in marinade, and bring to a simmer.
  11. Remove from heat and arrange chicken and marinade in an even layer.
  12. Sprinkle with dried fruit and one-third of fried onions.
  13. Top with rice.
  14. Poke 5–7 holes into rice with the back of a wooden spoon until you reach the chicken. Drizzle reserved ghee over and top with another third of fried onions.
  15. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and return to medium heat. Cook until you can hear the chicken gurgling in the pot and wisps of steam just begin to escape from lid, about 5 minutes. Do not open the lid at any point! If you peek, you will risk losing too much steam, preventing the rice from properly cooking through.
  16. Transfer pot to oven and bake, covered, 45 minutes. Let rest at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour before uncovering.
  17. Using a large spoon or small plate, gently scoop rice off chicken and transfer to a platter. Carefully spoon chicken thighs and any sauce over rice. Top with reserved fried nuts and remaining onions.
  18. Serve alongside onion raita while ghee is still hot and rice is steamy.

Chicken Rice Pilaf

My entire family loves one-pot chicken and rice dishes. I personally thought that I brought this one to another level by serving it with sautéed Indian-spiced CSA kale. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Asha Gomez. I used ground cardamom, chicken thighs, and increased the garlic. It was a fabulous weeknight dish!

Yield: Serves 6
  1. In a large saucepan, heat the ghee. Add the onion, cardamom, star anise and a big pinch of salt and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the onion is softened and browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and turmeric and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 2 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken and 
cook over moderate heat for 4 minutes, stirring to coat it with the aromatics.
  4. Add the stock to the pan and bring to a boil over moderately high heat.
  5. Stir in the rice and return to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat and let steam, covered, for 15 minutes.
  7. Fluff the pilaf with a fork and season with salt to taste.
  8. Transfer to a bowl, discarding the cardamom pods (if using) and star anise. (The star anise is so pretty that I left it in the dish!)
  9. Garnish with 
raisins, chopped cilantro and chopped toasted almonds, as desired. Serve.

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Weeknight Fancy Chicken & Rice

The New York Times recently published cookbook reviews in their weekly Food section. Dishes from each book were featured. This dish is from a book with fusion dishes from the American South and Southern India. What’s not to love?

They described this dish as “a truly glorious one-pot weeknight meal.” Perfect. It was full-flavored, fast and fabulous.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, adapted from “My Two Souths” by Asha Gomez, contributed by Sara Bonisteel. I used ground cardamom instead of pods, chicken thighs instead of breasts, and increased the garlic. Delicious!

I’m bringing this dish to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #140 this week, co-hosted by Julie @Hostess at Heart and Linda @Fabulous Fare Sisters. Enjoy!

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • ¼ cup ghee (or use unsalted butter, melted, browned, skimmed, and strained)
  • 2 medium (or 1 large) yellow onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (or 6 green cardamom pods, crushed)
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 ¼ cups chicken stock
  • 1 ½ cups white Basmati rice
  • ¼ cup chopped dried apricots or cranberries
  • ¼ cup roasted sliced almonds (or raw almonds, toasted), hazelnuts, or pine nuts
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves
  1. In a medium saucepan with a lid, melt ghee over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onions, cardamom, star anise and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft and a very deep golden brown, about 15 minutes, lowering heat if necessary to keep from burning them.
  3. Add garlic and turmeric; cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes, or until very fragrant.
  4. Add chicken and cook for 4 minutes, stirring to coat chicken with the onion mixture.
  5. Add stock and remaining salt, increase the heat and bring to a boil.
  6. Add rice, stir and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the rice has absorbed liquid, about 12 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 12 minutes. Remove lid and fluff rice with a fork.
  8. Transfer chicken and rice to a bowl, if desired. Remove and discard cardamom pods, if using, and star anise.
  9. Garnish with apricots, almonds, and cilantro. Serve at once.

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Pressure Cooker Masoor Dal (Split Red Lentils) with Spinach

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Every time I have made an Indian dal, I tell myself that I really need to make it in a pressure cooker to save time. Spotting several dal recipes in a pressure cooker cookbook made me take the plunge. Such a time saver! This dish cooks on high pressure for only ONE minute… What have I (or you!) been waiting for? 🙂

This dal is super creamy and thick. I loved that it was loaded with fresh spinach. We ate it served over brown Basmati rice, but because we love scooping it up with naan or roti, bread was an essential add-on to this meal as well. This recipe was adapted from Hip Pressure Cooking: Fast, Fresh, and Flavorful by Laura D.A. Pazzaglia. I think this will wrap up my recent pressure cooker frenzy- for now, at least! 🙂

For the Dal Base:

  • 4 cups dried masoor (red split lentils)
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 T vegetable oil
  • 4 to 6 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 2 T peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger root
  • 2 T pressed garlic
  • 4 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp amchoor (mango powder) (I omitted this)
  • 2 to 4 tsp coarse salt, to taste
  • boiling water, to adjust texture to taste

For the Tadka:

  • 6 T ghee or vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 strips of lemon zest
  1. Rinse and drain the red split lentils. Pour into a medium bowl, cover with water and let soak for about 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse, drain, and then add to the base of the pressure cooker.
  2. Add the water, oil, spinach, ginger, garlic, garam masala, turmeric, and amchoor (if using).
  3. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker; cook at high pressure for 1 minute.
  4. Turn off the heat and allow the pressure to release naturally as the pot lowers in temperature, about 15 to 20 minutes. (The dal will continue to cook.)
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the tadka: Heat the ghee in a small saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the cumin and mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to crackle, stir in the bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and the paprika.
  6. Remove from the heat and add the lemon zest. Stir well.
  7. When the cooker is open, mix the dal well and add the salt. Adjust the consistency with boiling water as you desire.
  8. Pour the tadka over the dal just before serving. Stir to incorporate, if desired.

Note: Leftover dal can be made into fritters, pan-fried, and served with tzatziki or tahini sauce. Great!!

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Indian-Spiced Chicken

I may need this cookbook!! (I’ve also tried the German Apple Cake & Busy Day Chocolate Cake from this book- both absolutely wonderful!!) In this dish, chicken thighs are braised in a delicious and spicy tomato sauce. We ate it with Butternut Squash Basmati Rice (the inspiration for the meal), warm naan, and sautéed kale & chard (with CSA leeks & garlic). A WONDERFUL hearty feast on a cold and rainy day!!

This recipe was adapted from Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn, via Martha Stewart Living. I used ghee instead of vegetable oil, increased the amount of garlic, and used a jalapeño.

Angie of The Novice Gardener asked for Indian food, so I am bringing this one to Fiesta Friday #41 this week! Enjoy!

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
  • 10-12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • one small onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 small green chile (I used a jalapeño)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 28-ounce can pureed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high to high heat. Add 2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil.
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to hot pan. Brown on both sides. Cook in batches if needed.
  3. Remove chicken from pan and add onion, garlic, and ginger. Cut a slit into the chile lengthwise and add to pan. Saute the onion mixture until softened, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add spices and cook for 30 seconds.
  5. Add tomatoes and 1/2 cup water and stir. Add chicken back to pan and bring up to a simmer. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes. Turn chicken occasionally throughout cooking.
  6. When ready to serve, uncover and stir in cream. Simmer for 1 minute and serve.

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