Monday, November 03, 2008

Diwali Part 1: Moong Dhal, Palak Paneer, Chana Masala/ Chole

I have about 25 or so photos in my edit box, waiting for me to write up and post!! (Banging head) This is getting old, yeah? Listening to my excuses :) One day maybe I will post about all these goals I have in my to-do list and these past few weeks, I sorta have the opportunities to cross some of them out. But of course, having food blog has always been one of those goals too. So, pardon me and let's talk about better things.

Diwali Dinner Part 1, from our small 4 people Diwali Dinner on the 28th. Vik was not expecting an Indian dinner - thinking it'd be just some celebratory dinner with friends. Since we are having 'the' more authentic Diwali Dinner on Saturday with family friends, he thought I'd just wait to fix up Indian menu for that Saturday. But see..I believe in celebration, especially the fact that it was indeed a New Year. A small nice surprise is always a good thing, right? So I came home earlier and quickly whipped up some Indian dishes. Lit up few dozens of diyas around the house, some on balcony. He would have been fine if I didn't do it, ya know? But he was grinning when he got home and saw all these little candles everywhere. Now, let's hope sometimes before Christmas, I'd come home to a fully decorated Christmas tree in our living room, yeah?

I ended up making some bhajias, rotlis, Moong Dhal, Chole and Palak Paneer. Since I simply did not have the time to fix up dessert/sweets - which is extremely essential in Diwali festival. The other couple brought in tiramisu and eclairs. Mmhh...

Anyway, so maybe the most Gujarati dish in this dinner is the Moong Dhal. I have never been a huge fan of this dhal - in my head, mung beans are eaten as sweet dishes. While he thinks it should be savory. Well, it's New Year, so savory it is then. Chole/ Chana masala is a dish of chickpeas cooked in spicy slightly dry gravy. Which I prefer to eat with chips or thinly sliced baguette - and I did exactly that with some leftover the next day for lunch. Weird, huh?

Palak Paneer has sometype of sentimental value in it. ;) It was our first cooking together dish. Many moon ago on one Sunday he decided that we'd have some friends over for simple Indian meal. At the time, I did not have very well stock Indian pantry, ya know? Tons of spices, as Indonesian cuisine shares quite similarity to Indian's, but that's basically it. Just spices.

So it got to be something simple and did not involve too much running around to get the ingredients. We both love Palak Paneer and it is fairly easy dish, so we just went to grab some spinach and paneer. However, it did involve an episode of some of this green stuff jumping out from blender when my then-boyfriend did not put the lid secure enough onto the blender! Can't let him in kitchen, see?

Moong Dhal recipe is similar to this Dhal recipe. Simply swap the lentils/ beans. Pressure cooker is better way to go in cooking this dish - much faster process, but I just use regular soup pot. That said, it requires parboiling these moong beans for a while until it softens up before dumping in the spices.

Chole/ Chana Masala
- 1 canned chick peas, drained and set aside in a bowl
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1" ginger, grated
- 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 small ripe tomato, chopped
- 4-5 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tbsp cumin powder
- 1 1/2 tbsp garam masala
- 2 green chilies
- pinch of turmeric
- few sprigs of cilantro, chopped
- 2 tbsp tamarind juice (mix warm water to 1 tsp tamarind paste)

- Heat oil and fry onions, garlic, ginger and chillies until onions is soft. Add this mixture to drained chickpeas and set aside for now.
- In same pot, heat a little bit oil and toast coriander seeds for few seconds. Then add in all other spices. Fry.
- Toss in tomatoes and cook until soft, add tomato paste. Stir.
- Add in the chickpeas onion mixture to the pot. Stir and mix well. Add in tamarind juice. Cover for couple minutes.
- Add just enough water to moisten it up and form slightly dry thick gravy coating the chickpeas. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Toss in cilantro right before serving.
Palak Paneer
- 1/2 block of store bought paneer, cubed and pan-fried for few minute and set aside. (home-made paneer of course tastes much better and I could have had put some efforts to make it on my own, but really...)
- 1 bunch of spinach, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 small onions, chopped
- 1 small tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1" ginger, grated
- 1 tsp of each turmeric and groud coriander
- 2 tsp cumin
- pinch of garam masala
- 2 jalapenos (optional), chopped
- 4 tbsp of cream/ half and half (sour cream works well too)

- Heat little oil and toss in onion, garlic, ginger and jalapenos. Fry for couple minutes until onion is translucent.
- Add in spices. Fry. Toss in tomatoes. Stir well.
- Toss in spinach and cook until it is slightly wilted. Add in about 1 tbsp of cream, just so that it has some liquidy consitency, for easy blending.
- Using hand blender, blend the mixture. We don't like it too smooth, so just blend until the consistency you prefer.
- Add in some more cream. Stir. Toss in cubed and fried paneer. Let simmer for few minutes.
- Just right before turning off the heat, add in chopped up cilantro and stir well.

Diwali Part 2 is coming up soon!!


Dee said...

Happy Diwali! You turned out an amazing spread - Palak Paneer is an old favourite. We usually order it when we're eating out at an Indian restaurant, and... I even have packets of the instant stuff in the pantry. I know, I know... I'm pretty pathetic.

Can't wait for part 2.

tigerfish said...

We call it Deepavali over here and past few days, I have been posting my Deepavali lunch :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Happy Diwali! Those dishes look so gorgeous! Yummy!

Thanks for passing by :-D!



Erica said...

again, I must say you totally turn me onto foods and recipes I haven't ever heard of! I <3 your blog!!

Esi said...

Happy Diwali! That is quite the spread you made!

Mochachocolata Rita said...

Happy Diwali! This is precisely whyyy I never put anything "draft"...cos I'll CERTAINLY forget about it ;)

Adam said...

Well Happy Holiday, whether it's a tad belated or not :) I'm always interested in seeing Indian recipes. Nice story about the former bf and the blender... that must of been great, er rough :)

The Mediocre Cook said...

Your dishes always sound so delicious. Your blog really is opening me up to a world of different cuisines. I definitely want to try paneer as I am a cheese fan in all its many varieties and forms... but making your own?

noobcook said...

Happy Diwali! Better late in posting than never ;)

Yasmeen said...

Hope you had a wonderful diwali,that's a delicious spread of festive food:)

Nazarina A said...

Wow, you turned out quite a tasty and colorful spread here !
Isn't Indian food just the bomb?!!!!!

Alexa said...

What a feast! That's my type of meal. Palak paneer is a favorite with my older kids.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

This is an amazing spread and I think it's great you did this for Diwali as a suprise to your guest.

Nice international flare too with the desserts. Very east-meets-west.

Cynthia said...

Wow! Your food looks fantastic - everything!

hot garlic said...

Oh the joys of a food blogger! Don't let people make you feel pressure {or yourself} that you need to post when you don't have the time / energy / inspiration / etc. That can be miserable and you know I've been there!

Thanks so much for your support, it means a lot. Obviously I'm back now, you may or may not have seen, but I was so glad to get so many supportive comments like yours, so a huge thanks and plenty of hugs right back!

Kevin said...

Look at all of that tasty food!

Kitchen Flavours said...

Suprise Weekend Bonanza waiting for you.

Indonesia-Eats said...

Happy Diwali...
I bet i am late to say it :)