Friday, December 14, 2012

Vegan Chana Dal

Vegan Indian Food:
Homemade Chana Dal
Chana dal (split chickpeas), turmeric, cardamom pods and bay leaf. 

Well-stocked pantry staple: Chana Dal. 
There is no beating around the bush on this one, I L-O-V-E Indian food. Just one problem with this little love affair, I'm a chronic over order-er. Trying to decide on just 1 (or 2) dishes can send me into near hysterics. Shockingly, this is not a wallet friendly way to dine out. Well as we all know, admitting you have a problem is the first step. And, in the world of thrifty vegan home cooking, learning to make it your damn self is the second. After a fair amount of practice I've mastered dosas, have a pretty good handle on chana masala and can throw together a pretty bad ass curry without much effort. On to the Chana Dal, which is suprisingly simple and quick to prepare.

Once your pantry is stocked with the right staples (rices, grains, and of course spices), and you've familiarized yourself with the proper spice combinations, churning out an Indian dish or two really doesn't seem all that scary. While Chana dal look very similar to yellow split peas, they are actually the interior kernels of  skinless black chickpeas, which have been split in two. You should be able to find it in an Indian specialty store, in the bulk section of your local health food store,
 or if all else fails, online. 

This recipe is prepared in the traditional way, dal simmered in water with spices then blended and a tadka or chanuk (fried garnish) added to the finished dish. 

You will need an immersion blender (ideally), a standard blender
or a potato masher for this recipe. 

Turmeric, cardamom pods and bay leaf. 
Vegan Chana Dal Recipe:
1c dried chana dal
4c water
2tbsp olive oil 
2 tsp turmeric
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1tsp ground cloves
1tsp red chili flakes
1tsp salt
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1tbsp minced cilantro (optional)

Combine dal, turmeric, bay leaf, salt and cardamom in a large saucepan.
Cover with 4c water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and gently simmer, covered, for 35-40 minutes.
There should be some liquid remaining in the pot once the cooking time is up.
Remove the bay leaf. 
Chana dal, finished cooking, before being blended.  
Using an immersion blender, puree about 1/2- 3/4 of the chana,
leaving the remaining in tact.
This will give you a mostly creamy dish that still has a bit of texture.
If you do not have a blender, use a potato masher to mash about half to 3/4 of the chana, creating a mostly creamy consistency but leaving some whole chana in the mix.

Preparing the tadka:
heat the 2tbsp of oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. 
Add your minced garlic, stir for 1-2 minutes or until garlic begins to brown and sizzle. 
Add in ground cloves and chili flakes and cook for 30 seconds more, stirring frequently. 

Pour the finished tadka over top of the dal, stirring to combine.

Pairs well with brown or white basmati rice.
Garnish of cilantro, optional but nice for a pop of flavor (and color). 
Finished dish over a bed of brown basmati rice. 

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