Quest for the perfect – dhal recipe

Another one of my long running quests is the search for the perfect dhal. Perhaps a bit shamefully, my favourite to date has been from one of those all you can eat, buffet style Indian ‘restaurants’ – so creamy, spicy and delicious. But how to replicate this at home? All of my previous efforts had been too soupy – I like my dhal thick, and stew-like – ready to be scooped onto waiting papadums.

When the nights turned cold again, I wanted something spicy and comforting. Time to add another contender to the quest for the perfect dhal recipe.

I think this time I got closer than ever before, especially in terms of texture. This dhal was definitely ‘healthier’ than what you would get if eating out – a lot less oily, and more of a fresh tomato flavour. I also added some kale to get some greens into the meal, which was a great addition – the robust nature of kale can stand up to quite a lot of cooking and so worked well.

Dhal in progress - clearly I lack the ability to cook small servings!

Dhal in progress – clearly I lack the ability to cook small servings!

Red Lentil Dhal 

(adapted from taste.com.au ‘Red lentil dhal with spinach’)

1 cup dried red lentils, washed and drained

1 cup chickpeas or kidney beans (I used canned because I had them; feel free to use dry, or omit altogether)

a decent shake of cumin

1 tbsp turmeric

1 red chilli + a few shakes chilli powder (adjust to taste)

1 tbsp sunflower, or other vegetable oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tbsp grated fresh ginger

400g canned chopped tomatoes + 4 finely chopped fresh tomatoes (again, the fresh tomatoes can be omitted; I wanted to use some up!)

1 tsp caster sugar

150g kale (or baby spinach)

rice, papadums, naan bread, chutney to serve (if desired).

Let’s Cook!

1. Rinse the lentils. Once rinsed, put into a saucepan, cover with water and simmer for 5 minutes, or until soft. Drain.

2. Put the rice on to steam. In a large frypan, add oil and spices, with onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until the onions soften.

3. Add the tomatoes, sugar and drained lentils, and other beans if using. Simmer for 15 minutes, adding kale about 5 minutes from end. Stir regularly to ensure it isn’t sticking – add water if needed.

4. Once everything is tender, serve with rice and other goodies if desired.

warming winter goodness

warming winter goodness

Finally a dhal I can feel good about eating! This hit the spot, but I have a feeling the quest for the ultimate dhal will continue until I can replicate the unhealthy oily version… but for now this is a good start 🙂

 

 

 

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Quest for the perfect Vego sausage roll

Upon my almost daily visit to the supermarket yesterday, I was delighted to see that Woolworth’s are branching out their range of vegetarian frozen goods. I was particularly excited to see the appearance of the Linda McCartney range, which I had always been quite keen to try. First off the blocks and into the trolley were the vego sausage rolls – I have a longstanding quest to find the ‘perfect’ faux sausage roll 🙂

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Now I know that faux-meat products aren’t for everyone, and that there is debate about the necessity of these products, and whether they make the statement that a vegetarian diet is inadequate. I would never tell anyone else what to do with their lives, or eating preferences. For me, these kinds of meat substitutes serve a purpose (i.e.: nostalgia – I used to love sausages rolls as a meat eater) – and if it serves to have people re think eating meat, or even eating a little less, I think they have a place *gets off soap box*

So anyway – I have tried a number of vegetarian sausage rolls, always in the quest for something that tastes like (my memory of) the ‘real thing’. These ones came close. The Linda McCartney rolls have the added bonus of being vegan, unlike the front runners in my books, the Quorn brand sausage rolls.  The pastry was great, not too thick, and melt in your mouth buttery style consistency – next time I plan to cook them a little longer so they get a really crispy pastry going on. They weren’t too greasy either, which can sometimes be a turn off. The filling was tasty, and certainly had the ‘sausage-y’ flavour going on. All in all, I think these made a nice winter weekend treat (we had them as an entree), and would give them an 8.5 out of 10 – definitely a respectable score. The quest continues….

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Current obsessions – vegie burgers

I might be a little late getting on the ‘food truck’ bandwagon, but now I am on nothing can stop me.

See, my current obsession is vegie burgers, and it all started after my pursuit of the Vegie Patch van. For the last few weeks it had been at Reverse Garbage on a Tuesday, and I had made plans to meet a friend there for a study break. So the plan was in place for a lovely, sunny winters day. All was going well until we rocked up at Reverse, and no van. But we were not to be deterred! After asking, we found out it was down at Sydney Uni, and so off we went…

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It was definitely worth the drive. I had the hot tip from a friend at Reverse that the zucchini burger was ‘mindblowing’. How can you go past that recommendation? Study makes the body crave carbs (so I believe 🙂 so I also ‘needed’ a serve of the sweet potato chips, and a homemade lemonade. Unfortunately most of the lemonade was lost to the slanting turf, but the small amount I tasted was great, with the classic tart flavour. And check this out for a burger:

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Just thinking about this is making my mouth water… along with memories of the basil-mayo sauce on the sweet potato chips *cue Homer Simpson drooling sound*

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Maybe a little expensive at nearly $20 all up, but as a treat this was totally worth it. The food, great company and inspiring, learned surroundings of Sydney Uni helped get more work done when I dragged myself home, so I definitely can’t complain! As soon as this rain clears, I plan to do it again 🙂

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Sydney Adventures – Bondi Beach

For the last couple of months Sydney has been enjoying a beautiful, balmy autumn of sunny days and only slightly chilly nights. As an avowed summer lover, it made me very happy to get away with only wearing a cardigan for warmth. It’s called denial – “if it’s warm like this, maybe winter will never come”.

Well, that was last week. This week winter has truly set in, with cold grey days and rain.

I’m so pleased that I enjoyed the last days of autumn with another Sydney adventure – last week it was to Bondi Beach.

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My friend and I had a specific mission in mind – to go and see the amazing graffiti mural of Staffys on the Bondi Beach promenade. As a long time lover of these wonderful dogs, I was thrilled to discover on facebook that an amazing artist, Mr G. had painted a mural of 3 ‘Happy Staffys’ which promotes the work of Staffy Rescue. As soon as I found out, I knew we had to go for a visit, and we weren’t disappointed!

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As you can see, Mr G did a magnificent job of capturing the joyous spirit of the Staffy! And promoting Staffy Rescue is such a worthy cause as they do such important work. If you want to find out more about Mr G, his facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/DOGATHON100  and Staffy Rescue: http://www.staffyrescue.org.au

While in Bondi I also had in mind another mission – a pie mission. I had heard great reviews about Bondi business Funky Pies, and their delicious vegan/vegetarian pies, so obviously, I had to pay a visit 🙂 I decided to take home some ‘Funky Chunky’ pies which I promptly devoured for dinner that night – this was a welcome alternative to a meat pie with mash – the Funky Chunky is chunks of shiitake mushrooms, with a layer of mash inside the pastry. And it went down an absolute treat!

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If you are nearby and need to stock up on other vegan/ vegetarian items (I noticed they also stocked the Tofutti range and also various faux deli meats), this is the place!

Funky Pies is at: 2/144-148 Glenayr Ave, Bondi Beach 2026  or http://funkypies.com.au