Punjabi Orange Lentil Stew (Dal)

By Shubhra Ramineni

In the northern Indian state of Punjab, it is common to add butter to lentil dishes -and in this recipe, I indulge in this tradition.  When whole red lentils are skinned and split, they reveal an orange lentil, called dhuli masoor dal in Hindi.  Orange lentils make one of my favorite lentil dishes since they cook quickly, and have a nice rich taste to them with the finishing touch of butter!  Enjoy dhuli masoor dal with Indian flatbreads such as chapati, spooned over basmati rice, or simply by itself  as a ‘soup’  in a bowl!

Punjabi Orange Lentil Stew

Punjabi Orange Lentil Stew (Dal)

Serves 3 to 4

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Refrigerator Life: 2 days 

Freezer Life: 1 month

Reheating Method:  Place the refrigerated or defrosted dal in a microwave, cover and stir periodically.  Or, place dal in a saucepan over medium-low heat and stir periodically. If the reheated dal seems too thick, you may add a bit of water to it.

Ingredients

½ cup (80 g) dried orange lentils (dhuli masoor daal)
2¼ cups (565 ml) water
1 small fully ripe tomato, such as plum (Roma), cut in half
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
¼ heaping teaspoon cumin seeds
½ small onion, diced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 handful fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) (about ¼ cup/10 g packed leaves), rinsed and chopped

PREPARATION

1.  Place the lentils in a small bowl.  Rinse the lentils three times by repeatedly filling the bowl with cold water and carefully draining off the water.  It is okay if the water is a bit frothy.

2.  Place the lentils, water, tomato, turmeric, red pepper, and salt in a medium saucepan.  Stir to combine.  Bring to a rolling boil over high heat.  It is okay if the water gets frothy.

3.  Stir and reduce the heat to medium.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally and lightly mash the tomato.

4.  Reduce the heat to low and partially cover the saucepan.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or until the lentils are completely soft.  Stir occasionally and continue to mash the tomato.  It should not look like the lentils are floating individually in the water. Instead, They should come together with the water when fully cooked and should be similar to a thick soup with an even consistency. Turn off the heat.

5.  To temper the spices, pour the oil into a small skillet and place over medium heat.  When the oil is heated, add the cumin seeds and onion. Stir to combine.  Sauté for about 6 minutes or until the onion is browned. Stir frequently.

6.  Add the tempered spices and butter to the lentils.  Stir to combine until the butter is melted.  Enjoy now or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate or freeze for later!  Just before serving, sprinkle the chopped coriander leaves on top.


Recipe courtesy of Shubhra Ramineni from her Indian cookbook,

 “Entice with Spice – Easy and Quick Indian Recipes for Beginners

http://www.spicegirlkitchen.com       Copyright © 2021 Shubhra Ramineni. All rights reserved.


About Shubhra Ramineni:

Shubhra Ramineni is a cookbook author and culinary instructor.  Shubhra grew up in Houston, TX  enjoying healthy, traditional Indian food and she learned to cook from her mother, an excellent home cook and a professional dietitian. Determined to eat well despite her busy schedule as a chemical engineer with an MBA, Shubhra set out to adapt traditional Indian recipes for the lifestyles of today’s professionals and busy moms like her, creating dozens of delicious, easy-to-prepare Indian recipes with both English and metric measurements in her award- winning cookbooks, Entice with Spice, Easy and Quick Indian Recipes for Beginners, and Healthy Indian Vegetarian Cooking (both available on Amazon).  Her no-fuss cooking methods and time-saving  tips will remove any intimidation of cooking Indian food. 

Instagram:  Spice Girl Kitchen

Website:  http://www.spicegirlkitchen.com


Recipe for a Kitchen Rendezvous

By Pooja Kini

Ever since I moved back home, my mother and I have grown incredibly close. Though we’re very different people, and our schedules rarely align, we usually find each other in the kitchen at some point during the day. I’ll sit on the counter top while she’s cooking, help her chop vegetables, or just join her at the table with a snack. We talk about everything, from the squirrels and birds in our yard to school to spirituality to recipes to music. Somehow, in these moments, the three decades between us seem to disappear. 

As a home cook, I’ve always loved being in the kitchen, and it’s become somewhat sacred in these COVID times. I’ve grown to really treasure our time together. It’s a refreshing break from the screen and I’ve come to associate it with some of the best parts of life: love, casual conversations, and rays of sunlight pouring through the windows. 

The other day, we were making one of my favorite recipes together for lunch: Rulaav Bhakri, or the Konkani version of Rava Dosa made with semolina, whole wheat flour, coconut, and green chillies. As we danced to Madonna and Tina Charles, she told me that as a teenager she would listen to ‘80s hits on her walkman, pretending she was the main character in her daydreams. (I’m 23 and I still do this, so….)

Anyway, I love when my mom makes these because they’re warm and crispy and taste incredible with some butter. Not to mention they’re pretty easy to make, so you can have a dance party in your kitchen while doing so. This is my grandmother’s recipe!


Rulaav Bhakri (Konkani Rava Dosa)

Recipe by Vasanthi Shenoy (my grandmother)

Ingredients

2 cups semolina
A handful of whole wheat flour 
An inch-long piece of ginger 
1/2 cup of shredded coconut 
3 green chilies
Salt to taste

PREPARATION

  1. Combine the semolina and the whole wheat flour, and set aside. 
  1. Using a mortar and pestle, grind coconut, green chilies, ginger, and salt until it forms a loose paste
  1. Add the wet paste to the dry flour mixture, and slowly add water while mixing to form a wet bhakri batter. It should be thick, not runny or watery.
  1. Set the bhakri batter aside for 10 minutes so the semolina can absorb the water, and if the batter is dry, clumpy or too thick, add more water. 
  1. Heat a cast iron skillet. 
  1. Using your hands, take a handful of the bhakri batter and spread it in the center of the skillet. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You can also use a ladle to do this, but this is traditionally done by hand. 
  1. Add ghee to the skillet while the bhakri is cooking, as you would with a dosa. This will crisp it up, brown it, and add flavor
  1. When the bhakri is a light brown color, flip and cook the other side. 

9. Serve with butter or your favorite condiment, and enjoy!


About Pooja:

Pooja is an Economics and Accounting student at UC Santa Barbara pursuing a full-time career in public accounting. At any given point in the day, you’ll probably find her drinking coffee or listening to one of her (way too many) personalized Spotify playlists. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and loves being outdoors, exploring new food spots, and styling recipes for her food blog on Instagram.

Instagram: @poojxk


No Soup for You: Creamy Mulligatawny Soup

By Shubhra Ramineni

Mulligatawny soup is not a true Indian dish, and instead is a recipe that was created from a blend of British and Indian tastes. The word mulligatawny originally comes from the Indian dialect, Tamil, and translates to “pepper water.” I was actually first introduced to this dish while watching the Seinfeld television show, in which the “soup Nazi” character selectively served his mulligatawny soup to customers he thought were worthy of it.  This soup is made with yellow lentils, called dhuli moong dal in Hindi, and I like to add peas and potatoes to it. This warm and filling soup gets its rich consistency from heavy cream, which also makes this soup a hearty, comforting dish to enjoy during chilly weather! Enjoy this soup as an appetizer, or along with the main course, or by itself for a light, yet satisfying meal.

Mulligatawny Soup

Creamy Mulligatawny Soup

Serves: 4

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Refrigerator Life: 3 days 

Freezer Life: 1 month

Reheating Method:  Place the refrigerated or defrosted soup in a microwave, cover and stir periodically.  Alternatively, place it in a saucepan over medium-low heat and stir periodically.

Ingredients

½ cup (100 g) dried yellow lentils (dhuli moong daal)
3¼ cups (815 ml) water
1 tomato, cut in half
½ cup (60 g) fresh or frozen green peas
1 small russet potato (about ¼ lb/125 g), peeled and cut into ½-in (1.25 cm) cubes
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup (65 ml) heavy cream
8 to 12 fresh mint leaves, rinsed (for garnish) (optional)

PREPARATION

1. Place the lentils in a small bowl.  Rinse the lentils three times by repeatedly filling the bowl with cold water and carefully draining off the water. It is okay if the water is a bit frothy. Pour the lentils into a sieve to drain.

2.  Place the lentils, water and tomato in a medium saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. It is okay if the water gets frothy. Stir and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally and lightly mash the tomato.

3.  Reduce the heat to low and partially cover the saucepan. Simmer for about 7 minutes or until the lentils are completely soft. Stir occasionally and continue to mash the tomato. Turn off the heat and transfer the contents to a blender.

4.  Purée until smooth.  Pour the blended lentil mixture back into the saucepan. (Or, use an immersion blender and purée right in the saucepan.)  Add the peas, potato, turmeric, red pepper, salt and black pepper. Stir to combine. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat.  

5.  Stir and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the saucepan and cook for 5 minutes. Stir every minute or so to keep the soup from burning on the bottom of the pan.

6. Add the heavy cream. Stir to combine. Cover the saucepan. Cook for about 5 minutes and stir every minute until you can easily insert a knife through the potato cubes.  Enjoy now or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate or freeze for later!  Garnish each portion with 2 or 3 mint leaves before serving.


Recipe courtesy of Shubhra Ramineni from her Indian cookbook,

 “Entice with Spice – Easy and Quick Indian Recipes for Beginners

http://www.spicegirlkitchen.com     | Copyright © 2020 Shubhra Ramineni. All rights reserved.


About Shubhra Ramineni:

Shubhra Ramineni is a first-generation Indian American raised in Houston, TX. Shubhra grew up enjoying healthy, traditional Indian food and she learned to cook from her mother, an excellent home cook, and a professional dietitian. Determined to eat well despite her busy schedule as a chemical engineer with an MBA, Shubhra set out to adapt traditional Indian recipes for the lifestyles of today’s professionals and busy moms like her, creating dozens of delicious, easy-to-prepare Indian recipes with both English and metric measurements in her award-winning cookbooks, Entice with Spice, Easy and Quick Indian Recipes for Beginners, and Healthy Indian Vegetarian Cooking (both available on Amazon).  Her no-fuss cooking methods and time-saving tips will remove any intimidation of cooking Indian food. Follow Shubhra as ‘Spice Girl Kitchen’ on Instagram to see what she is cooking next in her kitchen! Her website is http://www.spicegirlkitchen.com.


Cultural Identity and Coconut Chutney: Musings of a First Generation Konkani-American

By Pooja Kini

Being a minority within a minority is pretty interesting.  Growing up, I was pretty hesitant to talk about my heritage or culture with those I didn’t share it with. 

I went to elementary school in a predominantly white suburb, so I’d always just say I spoke Hindi because it was the only Indian language people knew about. Even as I attended middle and high schools with predominant South Asian populations, when people would ask me what part of India I was from, I’d struggle to answer. I’d say something like, “Oh you wouldn’t know it.” or “It’s complicated, but do you know where Bangalore is? My family lives in and around there.” 

On the rare occasion I did mention my heritage, barely anyone knew where or what I was referring to. And instead of educating them, I’d usually just give broad, overarching answers like “I’m South Indian” or reference a more familiar language like Kannada or Marathi. For some reason, I never quite believed in Konkani’s ability to speak for itself or stand out

Being fluent in Konkani didn’t really mean anything if I didn’t have any friends to speak it with or any pop culture to reference. I could never find Konkani on the drop-down menus for languages on applications and winced when I had to select “Other: ” and manually type it out. I also didn’t feel like going into a spiel about how the British weren’t the only imperial power to colonize India and how the Portuguese really did a number on my ancestors. Essentially, it was kinda like keeping a not-so-secret secret. 

At the time, I didn’t realize this was technically erasure. I never felt shame for my birthplace, I just longed for someone to relate to or at least acknowledge my people existed. In retrospect, this should have been made clear to me when Deepika Padukone started to become a household name. I have never felt the joys of representation so strongly. I was ecstatic, filled with pride, openly claiming her on behalf of the community – MY community. 

As the years have passed, I’ve extensively reconnected with my heritage. I am so thankful to have come from a family that prioritized the ability to speak our mother tongue, which is only spoken by about 2 million people worldwide. 

I’ve always been passionate about food and the role it has played as a link to my heritage. Food has always been there to connect me with a past that seemed almost invisible to most people. Some of my fondest memories come from eating Konkani food cooked by my mother or grandmothers or aunts; I can’t go a week in its absence without missing it dearly. 

I have always wanted to share Konkani cuisine with the world. I admire how it showcases our people, how sustainable it is, how it incorporates super unique gastronomic elements, and how reminiscent it is of life along the coast. It challenges the flawed notion that the Indian subcontinent, or any part of it, is a monolith. The truth is, despite its size, the Konkani community is incredibly heterogeneous and culturally rich. And the area in which it ~really~ shines is its food.
With that, here’s a simple recipe that showcases an ingredient familiar to any of us that have roots on the coast. This is my mom’s recipe for coconut chutney. The depth of flavor from the crispy, seasoned curry leaves, the pop of mustard seeds, and the juicy texture of the coconut make this simple chutney so special. I love eating it with Pan Polo, a Konkani variation of Neer Dosa.


coconut chutney

Ingredients

Base:
Shredded Coconut
Green Chilies
Ginger
Tamarind
Seasoning:
Hing (Asafoetida)
Curry Leaves
Mustard Seeds

PREPARATION

  1. Combine the coconut, chilis, ginger, and tamarind then grind them together with some salt and water. Feel free to use a blender or mortar + pestle, depending on the time you have and the consistency you prefer. 
  2. Set aside.
  3. Prepare phanna (tadka, chhonk) by heating some mustard seeds in coconut oil.
  4. When the seeds start to jump, add fresh curry leaves and hing (asafoetida) and immediately remove from the heat.
  5. Add the mixture to the chutney and enjoy!

About Pooja:

Pooja is an Economics and Accounting student at UC Santa Barbara pursuing a full-time career in public accounting. At any given point in the day, you’ll probably find her drinking coffee or listening to one of her (way too many) personalized Spotify playlists. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and loves being outdoors, exploring new food spots, and styling recipes for her food blog on Instagram.

Instagram: @poojxk