Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cooking in India

Most of you know that I enjoy cooking and I was excited to expand my repertoire to include tasty Indian fare. Arriving, I became a bit daunted by the sheer number of spices in the shops, getting good prices, and just learning what to do with all the different grains. The first day Jacinta started, I had her buy a pressure cooker, a necessary item in any Indian kitchen. (Well at least if you can afford one). It cuts down on the amount of time it takes and does a wonderful job with keeping in flavors. I was excited to see that it came with some recipes. Over the weekend I read through all the directions and recipes and decided to try two of them this week. One with chickpeas and one with black dal and kidney beans. On Monday, I proudly informed Jacinta of my goal and produced my list of ingredients. She agreed to have me tag along to the market so I could see where she goes for fruits, veggies, grains, and spices. Before she left that day, she made sure I knew how to use the pressure cooker - I had given it a trial run earlier with water - and wished me luck.

The first recipe I tackled was Chana Pindi. It involved using not only the pressure cooker, but also our knew grinder for the pomegranate seeds. How exciting! After the first cooking of the chickpeas, I took a little taste and it was already spectacular! The end product was a flavorful, spicy dish that we put over rice. It was delicious!!

The second recipe was called Ma ki Dal and involved less spices. The recipes from the book are for 5 liter pressure cookers, and mine is a 3.5 liter. So, I've been adjusting amounts, more guestimating. This one also turned out well, but I think next time I'll add more green chillies and a tad more salt. Otherwise it was also tasty.

Lauren requested that I put recipes on the blog, so here are my first two. There will probably be items you can't find and you can substitute butter for ghee (vitamin cottage has ghee). Again, these are recipes for 5 liter pressure cookers, so I recommend finding one. They are wonderful!

Chana Pindi
2 1/2 TBS pomegranate seeds 2 TBS cumin seeds (I used powder and didn't need to grind)
4 c water 4 c chickpeas (soaked overnight or in hot water for 2 hours and drained
2 1/2 TBS salt 4 brown cardamons (you can use green, just double amount)
5 sticks (2.5 cms ea) cinnamon 10 cloves
4 TBS coriander powder 2.5 tsps pepper powder
2 tsps garam masala 3 TBS mango powder
6 green chillies slit 15 gms ginger cut into thin strips
1/2c vegetable oil 1/2 c ghee
1 med onion sliced 2 lemons cut into wedges

1. In a pan, roast together pomegranate and cumin seeds and grind to a powder
2. Pour water into cooker. Add chickpeas, 4 tsp salt, cardamons, cinnamon and cloves, stir once
3. Close cooker. Bring to full pressure on high heat. Reduce heat and cook 18 minutes.
4. Remove cooker from heat. Allow to cool naturally.
5. Open cooker. Drain off cooking liquid and reserve. Add remaining salt (3.5 tsps), pomegranate seeds, cumin, coriander, peeper, garam masala, and mango powder. Mix well till chickpeas are evenly coated with spices. Sprinkle chillies and ginger on top.
6. In a pan, heat oil and ghee together till smoky (approx 5 in) and pour evenly over chickpeas. (I did it until the oil started popping). Add cooking liquid.
7. Place cooker with chickpeas on med. heat and cook till liquid dries up and oil shows separately, stirring occasionally. (lid off).
8. Remove cooker from heat. Transfer chickpeas onto a serving dish. Serve hot, garnished with onion and lemon. (With rice too).

Ma ki dal
6.5 c water 1.25c whole black gram (dal)
.25c kidney beans soaked in water 1 hour 2 med tomatoes blanched and chopped
5gms ginger cut into thin strips 6 flakes garlic chopped (2-3 cloves)
4 green chillies 2 whole dry red chillies
4.5 tsps salt .5 tsps red chilli powder
1 TBS ghee
2 TBS ghee 1 small onion chopped
5gms ginger chopped .5 tsp red chilli powder

1. Pour water into cooker. Bring to boil on high heat. Add black gram and all other ingredients except those for tempering. Stir once.
2. Close cooker. Bring to full pressure on high heat. Reduce heat and cook for 50 minutes.
3. Remove cooker from heat. Allow to cook naturally.
4. Open cooker. Partially mash dal with back of ladle.
5. Place cooker with dal on low heat. Simmer to obtain a creamy consistency (approx 7 min), stirring occasionally.
6. Fot tempering, heat ghee in a pan for about a minute. Add onion and fry until transparent. Add ginger and continue frying until golden brown. Remove pan from heat. Add chilli powder and pour evenly over dal. Serve hot. (with rice)

Bon appetite!


  1. looks awesome twy!!!!! wish i was there to try some. Thanks for updating, its truly fascinating! Can we have a guest post by greg about the school and the students????
    miss you & much love

  2. That sounds so tasty!! Interesting that pressure cookers are used in India. My Mum used one alot when I was growing up. Is that a British thing do you think?

  3. I have a feeling that pressure cookers most likely came from the Brits. They are more expensive, so the majority of the Indian population cooks in regular pots, which is why cooking takes all day. I'm loving the pressure cooker!