Baghar Recipes

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Spinach Moong Dal Recipe Recipe

Spinach Moong Dal Recipe

04.08.10 by Jackie

Moong dal, also known as split mung beans, is a very common ingredient in both Indian and Vietnamese cuisines. In this particular savory dish, the lentils serve as a complementary protein to the spinach. When paired with rice, it's a complete meal in and of itself.

There is a wide range of dals used in Indian cuisine, far more than you may find at an Indian restaurant buffet. Check out my other Indian dal recipes such as toor dal, kali dal, urad dal or masoor dal if you're feeling adventurous.


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Toor Dal Recipe

Toor Dal

03.21.10 by Jackie

Toor dal is a staple dish in Indian cuisine. What I like the most about this dish is that no soaking is required. Like kali dal, the lentil dish is finished with baghar, which is a layer of melted ghee with fried darkened garlic cloves.

Toor dal is a great protein complement for a vegetarian diet when paired with a starch such as rice. Dal is a great way to bring a taste of India into your home.


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Kali Dal (Indian Black Lentils) Recipe

Kali Dal (Indian Black Lentils)

03.10.10 by Jackie

The flavor combination of kali dal ("black lentils" in Urdu) is simple: black lentils, ginger and a few chiles to enhance the flavors. In this case, simple is beautiful. The dal is finished with a hint of acidity and tartness with dried mango powder. It is both tasty and healthy, especially if you're on a vegetarian diet and need the protein.

Since I'm married to a vegetarian, I have had to educate myself about how to create nutritious meals that are meat-free. What I learned is that the basis of any well-balanced vegetarian meal is a starch and a legume. This isn't too surprising; almost every culture has a combination like this, be it rice and beans, rice and tofu or bread and chickpeas. I've personally come to really enjoy rice and dal, which is the Indian version of this combination. Black dal in particular have a wonderful earthy, complex flavor that is hard to describe and impossible to forget. At the very least, try them the next time you go to an Indian restaurant, or better yet, make them at home. It's definitely worth the effort.


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Beef Shami Kebab Recipe

Beef Shami Kebab

02.17.10 by Jackie

Shami kebabs are made with an abundance of fabulous spices, meat (beef, goat, lamb or chicken) and chana dal (dried garbanzo beans). The spices vary depending on whether they're from India (Lucknow or Hyderabad) or Pakistan. My husband Lulu's family is from Hyderabad. They're all meat-eaters, with the exception of my husband and father-in-law. So we often make this dish when we have family over for dinner.

These are not your average kebabs. The meat is cubed and cooked in a pressure cooker with chana dal, and once cooked, it's ground in a food processor with yogurt. The resulting mixture is formed into "hamburger" patties that can be frozen or seared, depending on when you plan on eating them.

I learned this recipe from Baji, Lulu's late grandmother. She was an excellent cook. When Lulu and I first got married, she was already giving us hints.

"Jackie, I'm going to teach you a meat specialty from my hometown. They're called Shami Kebabs; they're spiced hamburger patties. This recipe is a must-have when you two have little children. It's nutritious and easy for little ones to eat. Speaking of which, when are you going to give me great grand-children so I can feed these kebabs to them?"

I would always smile, nod and pretend I didn't hear the part about having kids. Don't get me wrong, we'd love to start a family, but the pressure was a little overwhelming. Lulu's grandmother isn't with us anymore, but I promise that I'll make this for my kids when I have them, assuming they don't become vegetarians like Lulu (fingers crossed).


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Indian Tomato Chutney with Mustard Seeds and Garlic (Tamatar Ki Chutney) Recipe

Tamatar Ki chutney is an Indian tomato chutney flavored with fresh curry leaves, mustard seeds and garlic. It's usually served with basmati rice or roti (an Indian wheat-basde flat bread). I love this chutney so much and we make it so often that I usually use the leftover chutney as the base for the tomato sauce in my pasta. I recently used that sauce for my vegetarian lasagna.

Since I married Lulu, I discovered a wide range of sauces and chutneys that were totally unfamiliar to me. Lulu's grandma was an amazing cook. When she discovered that I like to cook as well, she was very exticed to teach me all her secret recipes. In most of the world, cooking techniques are orally transmitted from mothers to daughters. I always find it amazing that these recipes, techniques and tips have managed to survive for as long as they have. I feel very fortunate to have learned from such talented cooks like my grand-mother-in-law.


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