Bhindi Masala and Chana Dal

June 28, 2013 |  Category:   cooking recipes




Thank you all for the recipe suggestions, especially to those readers who took the time to type out whole recipes in comments. We actually do rotate quite a number of dishes that were mentioned. Once a week we have a taco night, a pasta night, a burger night (Claudine and I eat vegetarian Chicken burgers from Morningstar most of the time). These often end up happening on evenings when time is tight. When Mark does have more time to prepare dinner, he often will make other dishes like a steamed fish, a roast chicken, Cuban sandwiches, an Asian noodle dish, a curry, Thai or Indian food.


I’m trying to find my own go-to dishes that will add variety to the mix. I think we can be a lot better at making interesting salads as we are often lazy about the salads we eat and I’m thinking this could be my “thing”. Like some of you suggested, once I get back into it, I think it will be easier to take up cooking again.
In return for all your wonderful suggestions, here are 2 Indian dishes that Mark made very recently. I think Okra is something that people either like or dislike (kind of like eggplant). We happen to love Okra and we love this dish. Mark has been cooking Indian food ever since I met him 21 years ago. He made it so much during our years in Portland that I nearly became sick of Indian food. Nowadays, however, it’s a special treat.
Chana Dal (serves 6)
1-1/2 cups split Chana Dal, soaked in warm water for 6 hours
5 cups water
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
3 slices of ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon Panch Phoran (Indian whole spice blend, or substitute a mix of whole fennel, cumin, and/or black mustard seeds if unavailable)
6 fresh curry leaves (if available)
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Drain the soaked Chana Dal. Put into a large saucepan with the water and bring to a boil. Stir in the turmeric and ginger slices. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer (stirring occasionally) for 90 minutes, or until the dal is fully cooked. Stir in the salt and remove from the heat.
Heat the oil in a separate small saucepan. When it is hot add the whole spices, curry leaves and garlic. Fry until the garlic darkens slightly and the seeds begin to pop. Pour it all, oil and everything, into the cooked dal and stir to mix.
Bhindi Masala (Serves 6)
1/4 cup oil
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
1-1/2 cups finely chopped plum tomatoes
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika or chile powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
1-1/2 pounds okra, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, optional
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and salt, continue to cook and stir for another 4-5 minutes. The tomatoes should start to soften up quite a bit. Add the spices and cook for another few minutes. Now add the okra and cook until it is tender, maybe 6-8 minutes depending on the size of the pieces. Garnish with cilantro if desired.

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  • G. June 29, 2013 at 1:17 am

    I hated okra going up because of how slimy it is. Now, I love it, especially as an Indian dish. I will have to try this one.

    As for salad, have you ever made taro salad? I had it for the first time last year when a friend took me to al di la (have you been?), and i’ve been making different versions of it ever since.

    mesclun salad farro with beets, pomegranite, cranberries, red onions, blue cheese tossed with extra virgn olive oil, aged balsamic, salt, pepper.

  • janine June 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Ooh I like your chana dal recipe – thanks!
    I like to do a dry fried okra dish to go with dals.
    Fry a teaspoon of black mustard seed and a teaspoon of cumin seeds in a tablespoon of oil till the mustard seeds pop. Add a little grated ginger and some chopped green chilli and some curry leaves if you have them, stir briefly then add okra that has been topped and tailed and halved lengthways. Sprinkle on salt and a little turmeric. Fry, stirring now and then, until edges start to brown. I used to add plain yogurt once it was cooked, off the heat but prefer it crispy and dry.

  • rubysuby July 1, 2013 at 4:16 am

    Hi I have been enjoying your blog for several months now and love to hear about your life in NYC and love your photos. I live in central Victoria Australia and its winter here now, frosty mornings and not much rain… never much rain! You have me intrigued by the Cuban Sandwiches, can you explain them to me, what you have on them etc I have never heard of them before! Thanks

    • Jenna July 1, 2013 at 11:55 am

      Hi – cuban sandwiches are pressed sandwiches with ham, pork, swiss cheese and pickles. There are lots of recipes out there if you search.

  • Cristina July 2, 2013 at 3:51 am

    oh this looks yummy, thanks! I find it sooo hard to be inspired to cook every night, after years of cooking…and knowing that the kids won’t like this or that (of course you can push the limit but nor too far otherwise they don’t eat at all so it’s useless). how I wish I had a chef at the house, like you 🙂

  • wendy July 9, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    i just made both of these dishes tonight and loved them! we love indian food and have been looking for more vegetarian recipes for dinner, this was perfect. thanks for sharing!

    • Jenna July 10, 2013 at 2:41 am

      So happy to hear that you made it Wendy, and that it turned out well. xo.