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My Kitchen Café #3: People from a Bus in London: Urad Dal, And A Recipe

Posted Nov 16 2009 10:03pm

M y Kitchen Café is open again for this month and I am very happy to introduce yet another good friend of mine, Ganga who writes at A Life (Time) of Cooking. I cannot remember exactly when I first discovered her blog, but I remember that her beautiful pictures were very vibrant and full of colour. The other thing that stands out in her posts are the simplicity of her recipes for very tasty vegetarian food.
Ganga has been blogging about the food from her kitchen on and off since the early 1990's, even before blogs were common place.

Ganga, a vegetarian for nearly a decade, says "her favourite foods come from the regions that stretch between Italy and India".An Indophile, she discovered an exciting cuisine that is naturally nutritionally balanced for vegetarians, on her first trip to India in the 1990's.

Let me leave you to enjoy  her writing, pictures, and a simple and tasty recipe for lentils.

People from a Bus in London, Urad Dal, and a Recipe!


I love people.
I don’t mean that gushing, over extroverted, always hugging love for people. I’m a bit of an introvert myself. But I do mean that amazing joy that comes from the diversity that has been given to us in the people that have been put on this earth.

I love the complexities of people. I love their spark. I love the uniqueness of each person – there is no-one else anywhere who is just like this person.

It wasn’t always this way. I was a pretty shy child, and people scared me a bit. But one day I decided that I would find something fascinating about every person that I met. And I found that it is really quite easy. Everyone has a spark, an internal glow that is worth discovering.

What I love so much in life is the mix of people who inhabit my world. Like spices, they are fabulous on their own, but the combination of those people in my life, and the spark that each one brings, is like a well-blended spice mix.

Turning to Food

Urad Dal has an inner character as well. Most often used in spice blends, tadkas or in combination with other lentils, its inner nature remains well hidden. Often dusty, once rinsed and washed it shines with a beautiful nature that goes so well with ginger, tomatoes and cream.

I first came across Urad Dal because I loved the look of it, and as with so many things, bought it on the strength of that. Without any preformed assumptions about the use of this shy and retiring dal, I looked for ways to cook with it.
Since then I have been exploring Urad Dal, placing it as the starring role in many a dish.

My latest find is this Urad Dal with Cream and Spices, a gentle dal that is perfect to serve with a hot spicy fresh chutney.

Urad Dal with Cream and Spices


Spice Paste

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

5 cm fresh ginger root

1/2 – 1 green chilli, depending on size and personal preference. If unsure, start with half a chilli.

1 cup urad dal

1/4 cup ghee

2 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp chilli powder

1tbsp Garam Masala

2/3 cup cream

To serve

a few cashew nuts, crushed

a little green coriander, finely chopped


Rinse the urad dal well. Then place the urad dal with 6 cups of water in a large saucepan, bring it to the boil and simmer for 1 hour or until the dal is cooked. Drain the dal, but reserve the liquid.

Meanwhile, make the spice paste. Blend the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli. When the urad dal is cooked, heat the ghee in a frying pan and fry the paste, stirring continuously, over high heat until it is golden brown.
Add the cumin and coriander, stir and fry the spices for another 2 minutes.
Now add the drained urad dal, chilli powder and garam masala. Add approx. 300ml of the reserved cooking liquid to the pan as well. Bring the dal back to the boil and simmer for another 10 minutes to allow the spices to meld.

Just before serving, stir through the cream and simmer for 2 minutes to reheat the dish. Sprinkle some crushed cashews and chopped coriander on top and serve with rice and a fresh herby chutney. Enjoy!

The copyright for this post and photographs rests withGangaof A Life (Time) of Cooking, and are reproduced here with her permission.

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