red lentil, yam & spinach dal

The weather forecast was my muse to look in my cupboards and get creative… IMG_3232

Thinking warm and moist would be a healthy choice on such a cold and windy day, I thought of dal… and saw I had on hand everything I’d want to make it except for cumin. That’s okay, I could readily work around that with the ingredients and spices I have on hand now.  #warmingfood #letitsnow


  • 3/4 cup red lentils
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3t chile powder
  • 1 scant T tumeric
  • 2-3t curry powder
  • 2-3 t fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 1 large jewel yam, cut into 1/4″rounds then large rectangle chunks
  • 6 oz coconut milk
  • 1 cup cauliflower flowerettes
  • 5 cups fresh spinach, cut into thick ribbons
  • 1/2 lime, squeezed


Cull through and rinse lentils, then cover with 2 1/2 c fresh water. Add a dash of salt, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until fully softened. Using a dutch oven to accommodate the bulk of spinach, saute chopped onion in 3T or so of olive oil until they start to turn translucent, then add minced garlic, chile powder, tumeric and curry powder and continue to saute for another 2 minutes until spices are fragrant. Add chopped yam and several tablespoons of the coconut milk, continue to stir for 2-3 minutes. Then add a little water, cover and reduce heat to steam yam for about 20 minutes until softened (but not dissolved into mush). Add cooked lentils including remaining cooking water, coconut milk, stir to combine well, then add spinach to pot. Cover and steam for about 3-4 minutes until spinach turns bright green and begins to soften. Squeeze lime over dal, remove from heat with lid on to continue spinach cooking gently without significantly reducing moisture of the dal. Serve over brown Basmati rice for a heartier meal.


tofu garam masala

1 lb firm tofu, chopped
1 large yam, chopped
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 6 oz can thai coconut milk
2 T maple syrup
3 T garam masala spices (see recipe below)
1/4 t salt
1/2 cup raisins
top with cashews

Saute chopped tofu in large skillet in 2-3 T olive oil for 3-4 minutes, then add in chopped yam. Saute for 3-4 minutes, then add 1/2 cup water, cover and steam over medium-low heat until yam is almost but not quite soft, about 5 minutes or so. Mix garam masala into 1/2 c water, then maple syrup, stirring well; add along with coconut milk to the steaming veggies. Add cauliflower, continue steaming about 3 minutes. Add chopped peppers, continue steaming about 3 minutes more. Add salt if desired. Add raisins. Serve topped with cashew pieces.

garam masala

2 T cumin seeds
2 T coriander seeds
2 T cardamom seeds
2 T black peppercorns (1 T + 1 t)
3-inch stick cinnamon, broken up
1 t whole cloves (1/2 t)
1 t grated nutmeg

Put the cumin, coriander, cardamom, peppercorns, cinnamon and cloves in a dry heavy skillet over medium heat. Toast the spices, stirring constantly, until they turn several shades darker and give off a sweet, smoky aroma, about 10 minutes. Do not raise heat to quicken the process, or the spices will brown prematurely, leaving the insides undercooked. Cool completely. (If not using a wrought iron pan, reduce heat to low.)

Transfer the cooked spice mixture to a spice mill or well-cleaned coffee grinder and grind to a powder. Transfer to a glass jar with lid. Add in nutmeg, mix thoroughly. Use immediately or store in an airtight glass jar in a cool, dry place for up to six months.

-Recipe from Julie Sahni’s Indian Regional Classics: Fast, Fresh and Healthy Home Cooking. My modifications are in parenthesis.

Unexpected problems can become opportunities

I had planned to work from home today. When I logged in early this morning, I found an unexpected email from the IT help desk, informing me I’d picked up ‘malware’ and so needed to sign off the network and relinquish my laptop to a tech to scrub it clean. But I have work that needs to get done, people counting on me! No network access means I can’t get that work done now. Nothing to do but drive down to the office to meet the IT tech and hand over my laptop, the sooner the better for getting it returned to me. Damn.

But as I was leaving the house I saw the library books staged near the door, due today. And the Chaat house is right next to the library… I’ve been wanting their fabulous Channa Masala, Navratan Korma, Dal Tarka. And of course the best paan and chai ever. Yum. Lois and I had talked about going last week while she was home, but we never made it there.

I’m now back home after turning in my corporate laptop and library books.  I’m about to have my Chaat house lunch on the deck in the sun. After lunch I’ll make some calls, then read through two contracts. Somehow all my deliverables will get done.

It’s good to grab ahold of unexpected opportunities and a meal at the Bombay Chaat House.

last (day of summer) supper


1 8 oz pkg tempeh, cubed

1-2 cloves garlic, pressed

1-2 t tumeric

1-2 t curry

1/8 t sea salt

1 small (6 oz) can thai coconut milk

1 can cannelli (white) beans, drained then well rinsed

1-2 yellow summer squash, diced

1 yellow pepper, diced

1 orange or red pepper, diced

1/4 c or so organic raisins

cashews as garnish


Saute tempeh in 2-3 T olive oil until browned on all sides, adding garlic when tempeh is nearly done. Add spices, stir to cover tempeh, then add coconut milk and stir well. When coconut milk has warmed, turn heat to lower simmer, add diced squash and peppers and cover with lid to steam about 3 minutes.  Check to see if veggies are lightly cooked, soft but not mushy. Add a little water and steam another 2 minutes as necessary. Remove from heat, add rinsed beans and raisins.  Makes 4-6 servings, will store in airtight container in refrigerator for 5 days.  Garnish with cashews before serving. Beware: tumeric stains! Treat immediately with spray & wash.