Sunday, June 9, 2013

Three Bean Dal

The dal is an important part of the cuisine in Southern Asia.  A dal is a preparation of different types of legumes (such as lentils, peas or beans, that is often made in the form of a stew.  The stew is often served with rice and different vegetables.  A variety of dals an be found in cuisines of Bangladish, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Dal dishes serve an important function in the cuisine of each of these countries.  Many of the people in countries eat vegetarian diets, whether by necessity (because they don't have access to meat or cannot afford to buy it) or by choice.  Whatever benefits a vegetarian diet may have, it has one significant drawback ... a lack of protein.  This is where the dal plays an important role.  The legumes, such as lentils or beans, are full of protein.  And, while they may not pack as much protein as a chicken thigh or a pork chop, they nevertheless provide an important source of protein for the daily diet of millions, if not billions of people.

This recipe comes from Chef Vikram Sunderam, the executive chef at Rasika, which is a restaurant in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.  The name Rasika is derived from the Sanskrit word for "spices."  Chef Sunderam's dal recipe definitely includes spices -- jalapeno, cumin, cayenne pepper, ginger and garlic.  I made only two change to this recipe.  First, I used canned beans rather than rehydrating dry beans.  I just did not have the time to rehydrate the beans.  Second, instead of using yellow split peas, because I did not have any handy, I used a can of great northern beans.  Another substitute could be canellini beans. Notwithstanding these substitutions, this dish turned out very well.

Recipe adapted from one by Vikram Sunderam
and available at Food & Wine 
Serves 4 to 6

1 15-ounce can of canellini or great northern beans
1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons of canola oil
2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup water

1.  Begin the dal.  In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil.  Add the ginger, garlic, jalapeno, cumin adn cayenne and cook over moderate heat until softened about 6 minutes.

2.  Add the tomato.  Add the tomato and tomato paste.  Cook until the tomato is slightly broken down, about 5 minutes.

3.  Add the liquid and the beans.  Add the cream, butter and water. Bring to a boil.  Stir in the beans and chickpeas.  Season with salt.  Simmer over low heat until thickened, about 15 minutes.

You can serve this dal with basmati rice and naan.


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