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KUMAR DOES SUMMER
For this issue's dish, we take advantage of Japanese eggplant and several other tasty vegetables that are now in season and available at local farmer's markets. Since they don't require soaking, yellow split peas are among the more convenient legumes. Plus they're super tasty! Safflower oil is not hard to find and is regarded by some as a more suitable oil for Indian-ish cooking. Olive oil is probably healthier, though, and will work too. This recipe should serve 6 people, maybe more.
2 tablespoons safflower or olive oil
1 cup yellow split peas
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
5 cups water
2 serrano chiles, finely chopped, or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 or 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
3 Japanese eggplants, cut into large chunks
2 medium carrots, cut into large chunks
1 medium zucchini, cut into large chunks
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Toss in the mustard seeds for about 5 seconds; they'll start to pop very soon. Toss in the cumin seeds for another 5 seconds or so, then add the onion. Cook for about one minute, then add the garlic, ginger, turmeric and coriander. Add the split peas, bay leaf, chiles and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes.
While the dal cooks, you can prepare the vegetables. Heat the other 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium heat, then add the carrots and eggplant. Cook for about two minutes, then add the tomato and zucchini. Cook another five minutes.
When the dal is done, let them cool for a few minutes and then either mash them with a wooden spoon or put half in a food processor. Process until smooth - it shouldn't take long. Add one or two cups of water until it's at your desired consistency. Personally I like it to be a fairly lightweight soup, not a thick, chili-like stew.
Combine the dal, vegetables and salt in the large pot and return to low heat. Cook for about 10 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf, if you can find it.
Serve garnished with cilantro. A side of steamed jasmine rice and/or naan bread works wonderfully.
Until next month,
Your loving Kumar