Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chana Dal with Tomatoes

A fascination with bean dishes has captured my thoughts this year. It started when my husband and I were on vacation in April. We were at a resort with buffet style dining. There was a new bean dish everyday and I was thoroughly spoiled. Since that time I have been researching bean recipes from other cultures.

I love a culture that takes vegetarian cuisine to new heights - India is just that sort. This delicious, lightly spiced dal is incredibly nutritious and sits well at my Indian inspired vegetarian feast. Chana dal is basically split chickpeas. These legumes have little effect on blood sugar level.

In India the seasoning that goes into a dish is known as "tarka." The picture above with the tomatoes, onions, garlic, chilis and spices is the tarka for the chana dal. It is cooked down and then stirred into the cooked lentils.

1 cup chana dal (bengal gram dal)
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon safflower oil
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
10 fresh curry leaves
2 green chili peppers, split lengthwise
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
Sea salt, to taste

Soak the chana dal overnight in enough water to cover. Pick over the beans and rinse in several changes of water before cooking.

In a large pot, bring 4 cups of salted water (1/2 teaspoon) to a boil. Add the chana dal and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes. Cook less if you don't want mushy beans. Drain excess water.

In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium. Add the turmeric, cumin, curry leaves and green chillies; fry for 30 seconds. Add the garlic and onion; sauté for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes; sauté to reduce down. This will take about 5 minutes.

Stir the tomato mixture into the pot of chana dal. Add sea salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 sides

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