A Monday Recipe: Chana dal Curry, Kerala Style

This is my favorite chana dish, hands down. The savory tastes from the spices and cabbage complement the velvety smooth coconut and I can never eat enough of this! I *always* burn my tongue, and go back for seconds. Delicious!

Recipe Ingredients: read all the way through before beginning.
Chana Dal Curry (Emily calls this China Doll)

1 c chana dal (washed and soaked 2 hours)
3 T oil or ghee
1 c chopped cabbage (I use 2c b/c I don't know what to do w/ all the leftover cabbage!!)
1/2 c diced green bell pepper
1 t minced/grated ginger
1t diced jalapeno
1/4 t hing
3 curry leaves
1/2 t chili powder (I use 1/4 t indian chili powder)
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t garam masala
1 t ground coriander
1/4 t turmeric
1 large roma tomato, chopped
2 c (1 can) coconut milk
salt to taste
1 T lemon juice

1. Cook dal in 4 c water until soft (20m or so), drain, set aside
2. Heat oil or ghee in large pot, then add cabbage and bell pepper, saute
3. Add ginger, jalapeno, curry leaves, all dry spices, and tomato.
4. cook all until the ghee/oil begins to separate form the mix
5. add 1 c water, bring to a boil
6. Add dal, cook 10 m
7. Add coconut milk and remove from heat
8. Stir in lemon juice

Soak and cook your chana:

Prepare all of you vegetables. If you've read thru the recipe ahead of time, you can tell which ingredients are added when.

In this recipe, ingredients are added in two batches, not counting the chana and coconut milk, so I make two bowls of ingredients and have them done before starting to cook. This is the cabbage and bell pepper step.

The other "step" has the tomatoes and dry ingredients.

 Because I don't use a ton of ground ginger and jalapeno pepper, I chop a bunch of it in the food processor, then store what I don't need in the freezer. I can pull it out whenever I need some and hack off a chunk. I'm sure this is breaking some chef  or Indian cooking rule.

This is my hing: I love hing. The first time I smelled it, I thought I would die, but for some reason I now LIKE the smell: it's sort of sulfuric and garlicky, at the same time

Breaking another rule. I could totally go buy fresh curry leaves EVERY time I cook Indian dishes, but these leaves don't keep a long time and I didn't want to throw them out. So, I dried them on a rack and store them like this in my cupboard. They still have a nice strong aroma, so I assume they work fine.  Curry leaves smell a lot like salt and tea to me.

Here are my garam masala (in a bag), ground cumin and ground coriander. I keep these seeds fresh and grind them up every other week or so, as needed. I can't stress the difference in taste between these freshly ground spices and the insipid flavors in the store-bought prepared spices. 

Here is my new enameled cast iron dutch oven. I use this every day and it's AWESOME for my Indian cooking.

heat up the pan, add ghee, then the bell peppers and cabbage from your first bowl.

My ghee. I don't really have a brand preference, I just try to buy one in a recyclable container.

 Cook those a minute or two, until the cabbage is nice and green. Then add your second bowl of ingredients.

Cook this about two minutes or so, until the oil separates from the vegetables. It will look like this.

Add this point, add your water and cooked chana. Cook about 10 miutes to allow the flavors to all come together.

 Add lemon juice and coconut milk. Stir and cook until heated thru.

Serve as a curry with rice, or as a soup! Top with fresh chopped cilantro, if you like.
So yummy!! Here's my  recipe over at Food.com (formerly Recipezaar), where you'll find the nutrition facts for this dish. Eat up!


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