Indian comfort food – dhal chawal (lentils with rice)

As the title suggests this is the Indian equivalent to chicken soup.  Ask many an Indian and they will extol the virtues of dhal chawal as most of us were brought up on something similar through our childhood.  Anna and I revert to it as it is one of the simplest dishes to make and thoroughly satisfying and comforting.

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Mixed dhal

What do I need to make it?

  • 1/2 cup tuar dhal
  • 1/4 cup moong dhal
  • 1/4 cup horse gram
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger minced
  • Handful fresh coriander chopped
  • Handful fresh mint leaves chopped
  • Bunch of chives chopped (save 1/4th for garnish)
  • 1 tsp dhania powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • Salt to taste

 For the tempering

  • Pinch of asafoetida
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 4 dry red chilies
  • 2 tbsp clarified butter (ghee)

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Put all ingredients in a vessel and add two cups of water before pressure cooking.    Heat pan, add ghee, asafoetida and dry red chilies and saute for  a minute.  Add the chopped onions and saute for 5 minutes before adding cooked dhal.  Garnish the dish with the remaining chopped chives and serve with boiled rice or pilaf of your choice.

Jeera Peas Pilaf

What do I need to make it?

  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice washed and drained
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 100 gms fresh peas shelled
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 4-5 green cardamoms
  • 1 black cardamom
  • Piece of cinnamon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp clarified butter (ghee)
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 3

How do I make it?

Heat pan, add ghee and cumin seeds and saute for 30 seconds before adding the remaining dry ingredients.    Saute for a minute and then add sliced onions and cook for a couple of minutes before adding shelled peas and washed rice.  Saute for two to three minutes till rice turns into a white colour before transferring into rice cooker.  Add three cups of water and salt to taste.  Stir the rice when done and serve with dahl.

Mushroom soup

Fall in love with mushrooms again after you make this fresh batch of soup using an assorted range of mushrooms.  Normally I make soup with closed cup mushrooms but this time I went a bit bizerk in the supermarket aisle and picked up five different varieties.   The net result when combined with other soup staples produced a real flavourful bowl of soup.  It really doesn’t matter what type you use but key is to experiment with different varieties.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 250 gms closed cup mushrooms
  • 250 gms  forestiere mushrooms
  • 100 gms chestnut mushrooms
  • 100 gms wild mushrooms
  • 100 gms Anis mushrooms
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 sprigs of spring onion
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 red chilies
  • 2 pods of garlic
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 150 ml soured cream
  • Handful chopped tarragon
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Knob of butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Prepare all the vegetables by washing them and chopping them into equal size pieces.    Heat oil and butter in pan and saute garlic for a minute (just want to infuse the flavour into the oil).   Add onion, celery, spring onion, green pepper and chili next and stir for 5-8 minutes.   Then add chopped up mushrooms and reduce heat to medium.   Cook this for another 5-8 minutes and then add 2 stock cubes dissolved in 1 cup of warm water.   Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.   Blitz the soup in a blender and bring it back to boil – adjust the seasoning.   Add the soured cream and garnish with fresh chopped tarragon.

Wild rice pilaf

As Anna and I have reined back on our rice consumption we try and make our weekly treat as interesting as possible.  What started off as a trial in combining flavours together turned out to be a pretty tasty dish which we are sure to repeat in the future.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 1 1/2 cups of wild rice washed and soaked
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 1 spring onion chopped
  • 1 red chili chopped
  • 5-6 baby corn cut into bite size pieces
  • 5-6 mushrooms cut into quarters
  • 1/2 cup fresh peas
  • Handful basil leaves chopped
  • Handful coriander leaves chopped
  • 2 tbsp coconut powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 piece of cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp ghee or butter
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Heat ghee in a pan and then add bay leaves, cinnamon and star anise.   Saute for a minute before adding sliced onions, spring onions and red chili.  Saute for a couple of minutes before adding the remaining vegetables.  Cook for five minutes and then add chopped herbs and washed/pre-soaked wild rice.   Stir for a couple of minutes before transferring to an electric cooker.  Add three cups of water, coconut milk powder and then adjust the seasoning.  Serve hot with raita of choice.