Since arriving in India almost three months ago, I’ve not been short of food options, and am yet to have a bad meal. From the amazing street food in Rajasthan, to the fine restaurants in Mumbai, authentic cuisine in Kerala or the home cooked meals we’ve enjoyed in Varkala made by our “Indian Mother” Leela, its been a taste explosion. I mentioned before that in the last three months I’ve eaten mostly vegetarian food and some seafood (since being in Kerala) and, despite it being completely different to my normal diet I’ve really enjoyed this way of eating.
Today we decided to learn how to cook some of the dishes that we’ve been eating since we arrived in India. So we did an Indian cooking course where we learnt to make: Dal Fry (lentils), Vegetable Pakora, Lemon Rice, Kerala Style Chicken Curry, Chapati and Lemon Rice.
The food is all made with simple, locally produced and fresh ingredients, and despite the complex tastes and great presentation it’s relatively simple to make.
Below are the recipes and the order in which we cooked this amazing and simple meal for four people.
Firstly wash the rice (basmati) and lentils three items before cooking. This cleans the starch off, and prevents the white foam from forming when you boil them.
Start with one cup yellow lentils and 2 1/2 cups water and boil slowly for 20 minutes until soft. (Another trick we learnt is to put a metal spoon into the pot to prevent it from boiling over).
At the same time start cooking the rice. Use one cup of rice and cook in a large pot with “much more water than you think you need”. As you add the rice stir a few times (this helps it become fluffy) and let it boil until it’s soft around 15 – 20 minutes. Then drain the water off and let it stand.
We made these first and they were a great little snack while we cooked the rest of the meal.
2 onions (sliced)
1 small piece of ginger finely cut
2 curry leaves coarsely chopped
Pinch of: turmeric, masala spice, black pepper, chilli powder, aniseed
1 tablespoon grain flour
2 tablespoons of normal flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Sunflower oil (to deep fry)
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, while heating the oil. (The oil is the right temperature when you drop a piece of onion into the oil and in 2 seconds it come to the surface and slowly begins to brown). Then making small “clumps” of mixture drop into the oil and deep fry for about three to four minutes until golden, before straining and leaving to cool. Garnish with thinly chopped beetroot and serve.
Dal Fry – (one of my favorite dishes in India)
2 onions finely chopped
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 small tomatoes diced
A handful of Coriander
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
Fry mustard seed (to pop them) in the hot oil and then add onions and garlic and fry for a few minutes until brown.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
Add tomato and coriander
Simmer for 2 mins
Then add cooked dal and cook for a further three minutes.
Kerala style Chicken curry
2 pieces ginger
4 cloves garlic
Curry leaves (about 20) (not chopped)
2 chicken breasts cut into pieces
Coconut milk (we made fresh coconut milk from 1 coconut) or one tin.
In 4 tablespoons of coconut oil fry the onions garlic and ginger until brown then add 1/2 tsp turmeric 2 tsp of coriander and 1 tsp white pepper. Add tomatoes chilli and curry leaves, 1 tsp salt and chicken breast 1/4 cup water and coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes (making sure the chicken is cooked).
Using the rice which you started with
Thinly slice 1 onion
20 Curry leaves
1/4 Tsp mustard seeds
1 small lemon
4 dried chillies
1 handful of sultanas or raisins
1/4 cup cashews
Juice from 1 lemon
1 pinch turmeric
Warm 1/4 cup ghee if you don’t have this you can heat 1/4 cup of butter. Add 1/4 tsp mustard seed and a handful onion, turmeric, chilli, curry leaves and fry for 2 mins. Add raisins cashews and lemon slices and rice to the pan and mix to coat. Then add lemon juice.
1 1/2 all wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp oil
1/4 mug water
Mix and make into a ball
(Chapathi mix and roti mix the same. Chapati is made in a pan and roti is thicker and made in a tandoori oven)
Coat a surface with flour and make into small balls about 1/2 size of a tennis ball. Then roll out into flat 1mm circles and pan fry
Once you’ve prepared this wonderful food, invite a girl (or boy) that you’re keen on over for dinner, put on a Barry White album and serve.
Wait 15 minutes for optimal results.