I grew up thinking that I didn't like Indian food. I had this crazy thought in my head that I didn't like curry and therefore, I wouldn't like Indian food. Never mind that I'd never tried curry or Indian food, I just assumed I didn't like it. For the record, there are lots of Indian dishes without curry most in fact do not have curry. When I moved across the country to New York, my culinary horizons expanded drastically. I tried cuisines from all around the world. My international palate before then had been limited to Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Italian and Japanese. I have since discovered that in New York, if there is a group of people in the world that eats, they have a restaurant here.
I have been intrigued by Indian religions and practices for a very long time. My curiosity began with yoga when I went with my mom to her yoga class. I immediately fell in love and I've been practicing ever since. So when I found an Ayurvedic cookbook at a book sale, I immediately bought it. A very abridged version of Ayuveda: It is a healing system. The word comes from Sanskrit and means life science. It includes all aspects of life, including food. Followers aim to balance themselves through their actions and through what they eat. The following recipe comes from that book and this particular recipe is meant to be balancing for everyone. Not only is it balancing, it's delicious.
There are two main parts to dal, the dal and the vagar. Dal is just the lentils and the vagar is everything you put in them to make them taste good. Make sure you turn your fan on high! You'll know you are doing it right when you start coughing. The first time I made this, I didn't have my fan on and I inhaled the smoke from the mustard seed and chilis and I thought I was going to die. I had to hang my head out the window to catch some fresh air. Learn from my mistake! Turn your fan on high before beginning!
Strengthening Tur Dal
adapted from The Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook
2 cups dried lentils ( I used green lentils, you can also use yellow lentils or split mung dal)
7 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp olive oil
3 dried red chilies
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1. In a large pot on high heat, combine 7 cups of water and lentils, bring to a boil. Add turmeric, salt and oil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. The lentils will soak up all the water as it cooks, much like oatmeal.
2. While the lentils cook, in a frying pan on medium-high, heat oil. Add chilies and saute until they turn black. Add mustard seeds and cover immediately. Let them pop for about 30 seconds, until they stop popping.
3. Immediately add remaining vagar ingredients. Saute for about 10 minutes. Let stand with cover on until lentils have finished cooking.
Serve with naan, steamed rice, eggplant(recipe tomorrow) and chutney. I used tamarind and mint chutneys.