Black Lentils Curry in the North Indian cuisine is also called Dal Makhani. Dal Makhani means Buttery Lentil and is a popular dish originating from the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. The primary ingredients of this dish is black lentils (whole unskinned urad dal) and kidney beans. Because of it use of butter and cream, this dish can be rather unfortunate for your hips and thighs.
I have attempted a low fat version using only canola oil (instead of butter) and skim milk (instead of cream). It actually turned very creamy in the end and was very delicious. And do you know who vouched for that? My own mother! Someone who had taught me so many recipes and to get a compliment from the teacher herself was quite an achievement for me. She actually asked me - 'It was so delicious - did you use cream? How did you make it so creamy? Could I have the recipe?' Have I come full circle? :)
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1/2 cup dried black lentils, soaked for 3 hours or overnight
1/2 cup dried kidneybeans, soaked for 3 hours or overnight
2 tbsp canola oil
1 big onion, chopped roughly
1 green chilli, sliced
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 big tomato, chopped roughly
1/2 cup coriander leaves
2 and 1/2 tsp Dal Makhni spice powder (MDH brand)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup skim milk
Extra coriander leaves for garnish
1) Soak the dried black lentils and kidney beans for at least 3 hours. I did this at 8 in the morning and it was fully soaked by 11. Just nice to prepare for lunch. Apologies for the unclear photos. I though using Iphone HD photos will be quite sharp but apparently not!
2) Pressure cook these lentils together with 1 tsp salt. I used a small cooker and filled it up half with water. You can also boil these beans in a pot if you don't have a pressure cooker at home. Boil till soft and overcooked.
3) After the first whistle from the pressure cooker, turn your fire to the lowest and let it cook for 10 mins. Switch off fire and check when cooled. The beans should be soft and slighly overcooked. Keep the water. Do not drain.
4) Gwt all the other ingredients ready. From top left - chopped coriander leaves, tomato cubes, sliced green chilli, ginger garlic paste and cubed onion.
5) Get the rest of the other ingredients - tomato sauce, sliced garlic (optional), chopped coriander leaves and Dal Makhani spice powder. I use the MDH brand (available in most Indian grocery stores).
6) Heat a pot with 2 tbsp oil and fry the onion,chilli and ginger garlic paste. Then, add in the spice powder, coriander leaves and chopped tomatoes.
7) Add in half cup water and cook for 5 mins till soft and mushy. Blend it till creamy. Pour this back into the pot. Wash the blender with the cooked lentil water from the pressure cooker and also pour this back. Add in the tomato sauce and cook for 5 mins.
8) After 5 mins, add in all the cooked lentils, beans and its water into the pot and simmer for 10 mins. Then, add in the skim milk and simmer for another 5 mins.
9) Lastly, saute the sliced garlic if using and garnish with these toasted garlic slices and coriander leaves. Serve with warm chapathis or plain rice.
Asian Fruit Salad or the Chinese Rojak as it is called in many parts of Asia is very popular in Singapore. 'Rojak' in Malay means mixed and this fruit salad actually is a mix of the Chinese and Malay cuisines of Singapore. Where and how this SoutheastAsian fruit salad originated is still unclear. It comprises of a few types of local fruits like pineapple, jambu (rose apples), starfruit, vegetables like turnip and cucumber and then tossed with a sweet sour spicy prawn paste dressing (ready made vegetarian and non vegetarian pastes are also available). Young green mangoes and green apples are less commonly used in the salad and slivers of ginger flower are added as garnish. I have tasted versions involving beansprouts, kang kong(water spinach) and even fried tofu puffs.
The most important ingredient would be for me for the dough fritters or youtiao as they are called in Chinese. Mainly made up of flour and stretched into long tubes, dough fritters are deep fried (See picture below). Crispy and salty, it absorbs the dressing quite readily. These dough fritters go well with the fruits and the dressing and they can are found in many Singapore food centres.
This Chinese Rojak is different from the Singapore Indian Rojak which comprises of batter-coated deep fried eggs, tofu, prawns and potatoes which are dipped into a spicy peanut dressing. It is served with bite sized cucumbers. onion and sliced green chillies ...that's another one of my favorite local salads.
The Asian Fruit Salad is quite refreshing and light on your tummy. It is served as an appetiser or as a snack mostly. It doesn't last very long so you have to finish as soon as you can - I'm sure that won't be any problem at all.:)
Ingredients (Serves 2)
2 cups of cucumber, cut bite sized
2 cups of turnip, sliced into small pieces
2 cups of pineapple, cut bite sized
2 cups of dough fritters, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tbsps vegetarian Rojak paste (see picture below)
1 tbsp chilli sauce
2 tbsps crushed roasted peanuts
1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
A sprig of coriander leaf for garnishing
3-4 small limes, cut into halves
1) Gather the ingredients. Pineapple, turnip, cucumber and youtiao or dough fritters.
2) Toast the fritters till crispy but not burnt.
3) Cut all the fruits, vegetables and dough fritters.
4) Get the sesame seed tamarind paste (Rojak paste), chilli sauce, roasted sesame seeds and roasted peanuts ready. As mentioned above, the usual Rojak paste is loaded with prawn paste but I managed to get a vegetarian version. I got it at a local Chinese vegetarian restaurant near my home in the East of Singapore.
5) Place both the sauces and 1 tbsp of roasted peanuts into a bowl and mix well.
6) Next, add in the cut fruits, vegetables and dough fritters and mix thoroghly.
7) Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, more crushed peanuts and a coriander leaf . Serve with small limes for those who couldn't get enough of the tanginess!
Note : If the Rojak paste is not available where you are, simply combine, water, lime juice, chilli sauce and sugar. You can also substitute lime juice with tamarind water.