How to

Prepare Indian Lentils/Dals:

Fill a large bowl with water and drop the dal into it. Using your hands knead the dal so you scrub them well. When you notice the clear water become completely starchy, drain the water and repeat this process again. Depending on the type of the dal you might have to do this once or twice until when you wash the dal, the water is almost clear or very mildly starchy. This washes and removes all the excess surface starch in the lentils. Now the lentils are read to cook with. 

Sometimes Indian lentils available in international markets might be pre-prepared and waxed that might not need washing. I always buy my lentils from Indian stores, keeps the ingredients authentic and fresh.

Steam without a pressure cooker or any special apparatus:

The traditional Indian way is to use a special steaming mould and a pressure cooker made just for this purpose. If you don’t have this, there is a simple alternate way of steaming.

Use a very large pan (with raised sides). Pour in hot water slowly along the sides of the large pan filling half the pan. Whatever you want to steam, place in a smaller pan or indiviual cups/moulds and place in this larger pan. Cover and put this large pan on medium heat covered tightly and steam for 10-15 minutes.
Check for doneness by inserting a knife in the center of whatever it is you are steaming, it should come clean. If not Steam for another 5 minutes and check again. 

Remove the smaller pan or cups from the steamer, let it cool for a few minutes and remove.

    Make Ghee:

    To prepare authentic Indian meals, you have to make ghee first. North, south, east and west, people all over in India love it and it is part of our daily meal and authentic cuisine. It is our ultimate comfort food ingredient.

    • Use a pound of unsalted butter( 4 sticks). I make ghee in bulk and store it. It will last 3-6 months.
    • Take a heavy bottomed vessel, put the butter sticks in it. Melt them on medium heat. When the butter starts to melt, there will be lot of bubbling and gurgling. At this stage reduce heat to low and in a few minutes it will subside. Now the butter will begin to develop foam at the top. Simmer on Simmer on low heat uncovered and undisturbed, for 20-30 minutes or until milk solids on the bottom of the vessel turn from white to golden brown and butter on top becomes transparent and light brown. This is the signal to turn off the heat.
    • Let it stand for 10 minutes, remove any crust that rises to the surface with a spoon. Strain, discarding the milk solids at the bottom of the vessel using a cheesecloth or simply ladle off the top clear ghee into a dry jar. Store this at room temperature.
    • Never use high heat to make ghee. It will burn the milk solids in the bottom and give off a scalded milk smell and you have to throw everything away.

    Roast Garlic :

    • Preheat the oven to 350 F.
    • With a sharp knife, slice off the very top of the garlic, just to expose most of the cloves (this will make them easier to squeeze out after cooking).
    • Make a doubled layer of aluminum foil about 6 by 6 inches square.
    • Place the garlic in the center and bring up the sides a little to form a cup. Drizzle over the olive oil and add salt and pepper.
    • Bring the sides of the foil all the way up and twist together to make a firm seal (like a package)
    • Place in the oven and roast for 20 to 25 minutes.
    • Open the top so the garlic will stop cooking and set aside until cool enough to handle.
      Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and discard the skins.
    • You could also use herbs along with the garlic and olive oil while making the package with the foil, before roasting. This will infuse the herb flavor along with the garlic. You can use rosemary, thyme or oregano.

    Make Mayonnaise:

    • You will need 1 egg yolk, 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, 2 pinches sugar , 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar and 1 cup corn oil.
    • In a glass bowl, whisk together egg yolk, salt, dry mustard and sugar.
    • Combine lemon juice and vinegar in a separate bowl. Then thoroughly whisk half of that mixture into the yolk mixture.
    • Start whisking briskly, then start adding the oil a few drops at a time until the liquid seems to thicken and lighten a bit. Sort of like an emulsion.
    • Once you reach that point you can relax your arm a little (but just a little) and increase the oil flow to a constant thin stream.
    • Once half of the oil is in add the rest of the lemon juice mixture.
    • Continue whisking until all of the oil is incorporated. Leave at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours then refrigerate for up to 1 week.   

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