For many households the Sunday meal is the main event of the week. Growing up in the UK, Mum always cooked a Sunday roast. For Ramonet growing up in Catalonia it was a seafood Paella or Fideuà. Jump ahead to today, and if you come over to our house, you will be served something completely different! A traditional vegetarian Indian meal of rice, dhal and subji.
We both love Indian food, but it wasn’t until we travelled in India that we experienced what real Indian food tastes like.
Based on Ayurveda principals, Indian meals are a mix of sweet, sour, bitter, salty, pungent flavours with some chilli heat! Even for non-vegetarians, eating in India is a delight of different flavours, textures, spices, and colours.
What makes up a traditional Indian meal?
The staple to an Indian meal is rice or a Roti flatbread, dhal (dal) which is a lentil stew that can be served to the consistency of soup or a little thicker. You would also be served a vegetable curry (subji), and if you are non-vegetarian a meat, chicken, or seafood curry. Plus pickles.
Subji (also spelt Sabzi), is a vegetable curry. It is a good way to add more fibre and a variety of vegetables to your diet. You can use any combination of seasonal vegetables. At the time of writing this, we are in the back end of winter, so Ram has used cauliflower and potato as the two main ingredients to the subji.
Rice, dhal and Subji is a lovely balance flavour and provides all the required mix of nutrients. It’s great for the digestive system and tastes really good too!
Here’s Ram’s recipe for a Traditional Red Lentil Dhal and a Cauliflower and Potato Subji.
We hope you enjoy it!
Ram’s Red Lentil Dhal (Dal)
Takes Approx. 45mins
A hearty dhal is delicious as a meal.
There’s something beautifully comforting about a bowl of dhal and a warm Roti to dip into!
Here’s Ram’s version of this popular, staple Indian dish.
½ cup vegetable oil (can use “ghee” but it won’t be vegan)
1 ½ inch piece of fresh ginger (pealed & chopped finely)
1 tsp black or yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp black pepper powder
2 medium bay leaves
1 stick of cinnamon (if small use 2)
5 whole cardamon pods (split)
½ tsp Asafoetida (hing)*
½ tsp cayenne
Salt (to taste)
½ brown onion, (finely chopped)
1 cup Red Lentils
6 cups Vegetarian stock or water (heated)
3-4 green leaves kale (small chopped)
Small handful of fresh coriander (or parsley) chopped
Rinse the red lentils until the water runs clear.
At the same time, make a vegetable stock with vegetable scraps and peelings. (If you don’t have time, a store-based vegetable stock is just as good or use hot water). The important thing is the stock liquid is warm.
Heat a large pot on medium heat and add the oil (or ghee).
Add the chopped ginger, stir for a moment before adding the black mustards, and cumin seeds. When they start to pop add the turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamon, and hing.
Stir for a couple of minutes and then add the red lentils. Stir so everything is mixed well and all the spices coat the lentils.
Add the hot vegetarian stock (or water). Cover and bring to the boil.
Let the dhal boil for approx. 5 minutes. Then turn down the heat very low to a simmer. Lightly cover the pan.
Make sure you give the mixture a stir every 5 minutes, so the dhal doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
After 30 minutes of simmering, or until the lentils have broken down. At this stage you can add a little more stock of water if it is needed or if you want a runnier, soup like consistency.
Add the kale, and the cayenne, and continue simmering for a further 7 minutes.
Add salt to taste and turn it off the heat.
Sprinkle with the chopped coriander and serve.
Serve the dhal with side of non sticky rice. We normally use an integral medium grain brown rice or Basmati. Serve also with subji (try the Cauliflower and Potato Subji recipe below!)
You can also serve with Indian bread – Roti, chapati or Naan.
It’s delicious on its own, with a dollop of yoghurt, (we use coconut yoghurt) and a squeeze of lemon.
For a heartier dish, add 2 cups of chopped seasonal vegetables before you add the stock.
If you are using Ghee, it’s also nice to serve with a little melted ghee on top.
We also love to eat Dhal with Sauerkraut or a nice tomato Kasundi.
Cauliflower and Potato Subji
The preferred way to cook vegetables in India is to sauté them in oil or ghee. Add spices and a little bit of water. Always use seasonal vegetables. This is such a delicious curry! It is easy to make. And all in one pot!
Takes: 20 minutes
STEP 1 Ingredients:
1 medium onion (peeled and roughly chopped)
2 tbsp unsweetened, shredded coconut
2 cm ginger (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (peeled)
1 cup of water
Handful of coriander or Italian parsley
STEP 2 Ingredients:
Vegetable oil (or ghee).
1 tsp mustard seeds (black or yellow).
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 pinch of Asafoetida (hing)*
4-5 curry leaves
1 medium tomato (diced)
2 cups of cauliflower (washed and broken into small florets – not too small!)
2 cups (around 2 medium sized) potatoes, try to leave the skin on if the potatoes are organic, thoroughly wash and diced in cubes
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Garam masala powder
Take all the ingredients from Step 1, and blend together to a smooth consistency. Put to one side.
Prepare the cauliflower and potatoes. Try to keep the skin on the potatoes, if they are organic, there’s lots of goodness in the skin!
Over a medium heat. Add a dash of vegetable oil to a large flat based pan. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, hing, and curry leaves. Heat until the seeds begin to pop!
Next, add the blended ingredients from step 1 to the pan and cook for a minute on a medium heat.
Add the diced tomato and cook for a couple more minutes whilst stirring the mixture.
Next add the cauliflower and the potatoes and mix well.
Season with salt and black pepper.
Add in the turmeric and garam masala powder, continue stirring until the vegetables are fully coated. You want all the delicious spices to fully coat the vegetables.
Add a cup of water to the pan. (You can add a little bit more if you want a wetter consistency).
Cover and cook on a medium heat until the vegetables are cooked. (approx.10minutes)
*Asafoetida (hing) can be found in Indian grocery stores.
There’s always a little bit more time to cook on Sundays, plus we always make extra, so there’s plenty left for Monday! If you love your Indian food, you know it always tastes better the next day!
If you liked this recipe, you may like to try our recipe for Kitcheree.