What are Choyotes?
Chayotes are light green pear shaped fruit common in Mexican cuisine and are found in many warm climates. Chayotes are cultivated as vines and they belong to the gourd family together with cucumber and squash (See picture of Chayote Plant below). It has a mild flavor and crisp texture. It is either eaten raw in salads or cooked.
Chayotes have high water and fibre content and are relatively low in natural sugars. They are also prized for being high in Vit C, potassium and amino acids.
Because of is mild flavor, chayotes are quite versatile and can be cooked or baked in many ways. They can be added to dressings, casseroles, pickled, fried or even stuffed. They are very often used as a substitute to summer squash in many recipes. Here I have used chayotes in an Indian lentil curry. It makes a plain lentil curry healthier and gives a different look and texture to the curry.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1/2 cup split husked mung bean (Moong dal)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
3 stalks of coriander leaves chopped
1/2 chayote, cut into big cubes
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp chilli powder
Salt per preference
More coriander leaves for garnishing
Boil the mung beans with the cubed choyote in pressure cooker. After the first whistle reduce fire to the lowest and wait for 3 -4 mins. Then increase fire all the way to max and when the cooker whistles, stop the fire. Alternatively, it shouldn't take more than 10 mins to boil the mung bean in a pot with the choyote.
Take another pot, heat the oil and fry the cumin seeds.
Then add the onions and fry till translucent.
Add in the spice powders and salt and let it cook for 2 mins.
Add in the coriander leaves and pour in the cooked mung bean and choyote.
Let it cook for 2-3 mins and switch the fire off.
Serve with rice, wholemeal flatbreads (Chapathis) and a side vegetable dish.
Scallion (Spring Onion) Lentil Curry is a super easy lentil curry to cook with so few ingredients. It is simple and easy on the stomach with no chilli involved at all - be it as a powder or as a vegetable. Ranya (my older daughter) loves this dal and has been her favorite since her toddler days. We had a good helper when we were living in Singapore - Auntie Gloria - who makes this lentil curry very well.
Ingredients (for 4)
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 cup orange lentils (masoor dal)
1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 small tomato , cubed small
3 stalks spring onions, sliced small
3/4 tsp turmeric powder
Salt per your preference
Boil the orange lentils in pressure cooker for 3 minutes after the first whistle or in a pot for around 10 mins.
Heat the oil in a small pot and fry the ginger garlic paste for a few minutes.
This will then be followed by the spring onions.
Spring onions don't take a long time to cook, thus add in the turmeric powder and salt now.
Give it a few minutes and then add in the cooked dal with the cubed tomato.
Stir and let the flavors combine well.
Switch off the fire in 3-5 mins and serve warm garnished with extra spring onions and tomato cubes.
Ridge Gourd is also called Loofah or Luffa. It is really a dark green ridge vegetable on the exterior with white seeds embedded in the white spongy flesh. It is the fruit of a fast growing warm climate vine plant (See picture below). It tastes rather mild thus it absorbs any spices it is cooked in. This gourd must be eaten before it turns mature otherwise, the flesh will turn woodsy and fibrous to consume. The mature ones are the source of the Luffa scrubbing sponge used widely for polishing our skin (See picture below).
Ridge Gourd has a number of health benefits as in it helps to purify our blood, alleviate constipation, fortifies our immune system among others. Ridge Gourd Lentil Curry or Luffah Dal Curry is an easy curry using only a few ingredients.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1/2 cup Toor Dal (Pigeon Peas)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 red chilli (seeds removed), sliced thin
3 stalks of coriander leaves, chopped
1 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 small ridge gourd (around 10 inch), peeled and sliced thin
1 cup water
Boil the pigeon peas or toordal in pressure cooker for 10 mins till soft and slightly mushy. Don't overcook the lentils. Set aside.
Take a medium sized pot and heat the oil.
Fry the mustard seeds and when it starts to splutter, add in the onion and the red chilli.
When the onion has browned add in the turmeric powder and salt.
After a few minutes, add in the sliced ridge gourd and pour 1 cup water. Let the ridge gourd simmer and cook for a few minutes.
After 5-10 minutes, add in the cooked toor dal and chopped coriander leaves and mix well.
Switch off the fire after 3 minutes of simmering and your Ridge Gourd Lentil Curry is now ready for your savoring. Serve garnished with more coriander leaves with a side vegetable dish and pickle.
Lemon Garlic Lentil Curry or Lemon Garlic Dal is a simple curry incorporating whole garlic cloves and sliced lemon wedges. Pretty simple and just the perfect light curry for those busy days or convalescing days till you regain your energy.
Ingredients ( for 4)
1/3 cup orange/pink lentil (masoor dal)
1/3 cup split skinned mung bean(moong dal)
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
6 - 8 whole garlic cloves peeled and washed
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 green chilli ( optional if no heat preferred)
1/2 lemon slices into thin quarter wedges
1 tsp turmeric powder - divided into 1/2 tsp each
1/2 tsp cumin powder
Boil both the lentils in enough water with ginger garlic paste and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder. I used the pressure cooker and after the first whistle, lower the fire and let it cook for 4 minutes after which you switch off the fire. Wait for cooker to cool down before you attempt to open the lid.
If you are using an open pot to cook the lentils, it shouldn't take more than 10 mins. Once soft and mushy, leave aside.
Take a medium sized pot and heat the oil. Fry the garlic cloves till light brown.
Then, add in the cumin seeds and let it crackle.
Add in the sliced green chilli( if using) and coriander leaves.
After a few mins, stir in the turmeric and cumin powder and salt.
This will then be followed by the cooked lentils.
Stir and then add in the lemon wedges.
Check for seasonings.
Garnish with more lemon wedges and coriander leaves and serve warm.
Sambar is another spicy vegetable lentil curry very commonly cooked in many South Indian households. Because it is such a basic curry, it will be a shame if any South Indian doesn't know how to cook this!!
Sambar can be served with plain boiled rice, steamed rice cakes ( idlis), fried lentil doughnuts ( medhu vadais), lentil crepes (dosas)- well just about any South Indian snack!! And it is rather nutritious because of the boiled lentils and stewed vegetables.
My girls love Sambar with Grilled Tofu and Okra or Tofu Sambal. The following recipe is for 4 in a household.
Ingredients for Dal Stew
1/2 cup toor dal ( pigeon peas)
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 medium onion, chopped finely
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped finely
3 cups water
Method for Dal Stew
Boil the toor dal with garlic, onion and tomatoes in pressure cooker for 10 mins till well cooked and mushy. Mash and keep aside.
Ingredients for Vegetable Stew
1/2 radish, cut into half and sliced thinly
4 pieces of 3 inch drumsticks (veg)
10 pieces beans, cut into 3 inch pieces
1 small carrot, sliced thinly
1 tsp tamarind pulp, juice extracted
3 tsp sambar powder ( See Note)
3 cups water
Salt to season
Method for Vegetable Stew
Boil all the vegetables with water, sambar powder, tamarind extract and salt for 10-15 mins till vegetables are cooked.
Mix these vegetables with the Dal Stew and keep aside on low heat.
Ingredients for tempering
5-6 curry leaves
2 dried chillies, torn into 2
1/4 tsp each of fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and coriander seeds
1 tbsp Sesame oil for tempering
Method for tempering
Fry the dried chillies, curry leaves and all the seeds in sesame oil. Pour this tempering oil with all the ingredients in to the pot with the vegetables and dal.
Serve hot with rice, a vegetable dish, mango pickle and pappads.
Many other vegetables can be used too like okra, potatoes, eggplants etc. It is quite a versatile dish.
Sambar powder can be found in many Indian grocery stores. It is made up of ground whole dry spices and lentils. Or you can make your own at home.
Hi guys! I'm Nilofar Iyer and I have shared my dishes here for you to cook for your own family and friends with love and most importantly with their long term good health in mind.