Quick warming red lentil dahl – Instapot


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red lentil dahl

There are many different dahls, with many different lentils—toor dahl, chana dahl, moong dahl, tomato dahl, spinach dahl, tarka dahl, dahl talak, etc, etc. This recipe is an easy one (it uses red lentils which cook quickly even without the Instapot) but it packs a lot of flavor.

As an aside, I cooked this last night in my new christmas present: an instapot. (You can make the dahl on the stove top too. I’ll leave notes for that).

First off, I cannot believe they sell these dangerous weapons to people without a license. I burnt my palms (because I didn’t the read the Do Not Touch sticker on the lid). And I got quite a shock when I flipped the ventilation open and a volcanic face-melting burst of steam shot up through my kitchen into the stratosphere (because I did not read the long instruction/cautionary manual). By this point, I was officially frightened of my Instapot. In fact I was damn scared. Think that’s silly? Think when you get your Instapot you won’t be scared? You will be.

You will be.

But who am I? Am I wuss or woman? Do I stand around looking cute and/or do I cook? The kitchen is not, has never been, a place of safety. I know that. You know that. It is no oasis for the meek and mild. The kitchen is war. It is Mordor and if you make it out alive, you too will be glassy-eyed, weary, and want to sleep for weeks in a feather bed in Rivendell while Aragorn brings you hot chocolate and Legolas gives you back rubs. You will be cut, sliced, burned, scalded and scarred. The kitchen is the danger zone. It’s the weapon room and it’s the battlefield. Instapots belong here just the same as the deep-fat fryers, red-hot cast iron skillets, graters, grinders, carvers and bone-chopping cleavers. Prometheus gave the humans fire and now Target has given us the Instapot. Master this new machine of power the same as you have mastered all the others and behold as it shaves a good twenty minutes off the cooking time of this red lentil dahl.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?

1 cup red lentils
2 cups water, 1 cup tamarind water*
1 onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, sliced (reserve one tsp for tarkka)
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 green chili, chopped (seeds left in for spiciness, leave them out for mild)
1 large handful fresh cilantro/coriander, chopped (reserve a little bit for tarkka)
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter or ghee
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp hing (asafoetida) powder
1 tsp cumin (jeera) seeds
1 tsp salt
1 tomato, chopped

* tamarind water is made by soaking dried tamarind in warm water and then straining out the tamarind. If you can’t find this, just substitute 1 cup water. The tamarind adds a bit of sourness to the dahl. You can squeeze a little lemon juice into the dahl at the end for a little sourness if you like.

1) Put instapot on sautee, low temp
2) Add oil. When warm, add mustard seeds. Wait until they pop and sizzle, then add the remaining spices and stir.
3) Add in garlic and ginger. Stir. Let cook for a moment, then add onion and chili. Cook for one minute, then add in tomato and cilantro.
4) Add in lentils and water.
5) Put lid on the instapot, turn it to porridge, turn the top knob to sealing and set the timer for 8 minutes.
6) When it has finished cooking after 8 minutes, either release the steam with the quick release (watch your hands and face!) or let slowly cool on its own while you make some rice or flatbread to go with the dahl.
7) After it has cooked and cooled and you have safely removed lid, give it a stir. Some people cook their lentils till super soft or even blitz them to a smooth consistency, but I like a little texture. Still, the dahl should be soft and gloopy like a porridge. Transfer to a serving dish.
8) Now for the tarkka, which is a flavored oil or ghee that you pour over at the end. This is also a great way to add extra flavor if you feel the dahl needs something more. You can add extra salt or spices to the ghee/butter/oil. But this dahl recipe should already be flavorful, so in this case: heat up butter or ghee in a small frying pan. Add the reserved garlic and remaining cilantro. Let cook gently till garlic softened then transfer to dahl. Mix in.
9) Serve with naan, chapatis, or rice.

For cooking on stovetop

1) Follow the same steps as above except sautee all the chopped veg and spices on low heat until quite soft (about five minutes).
2) Add in water and lentils and bring to a boil. Then cover with a lid, turn heat down to low, and cook for about 30 minutes. Check every so often and stir to make sure the lentils don’t stick to the bottom and burn. Add more water if needed.
3) When dahl is soft and ready, continue with step 8 above.



Vegan mushroom carbonara


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It’s not really a carbonara. There’s no cream, no rich egg yolk, no panchetta. Forgive me while I gluttonly remember how that simple, lovely pasta carbonara tasted, bite by creamy bite. One of the first things my husband ever cooked for me… A bit of richness and sophistication, presented on chipped plate in a ratty kitchen of a squat in Wimbledon. Ok, I’m done now. I enjoyed that little memory, but those lovely irresponsible days are gone, and I just don’t eat like that anymore. For whatever reason you might be looking for a vegan carbonara pasta recipe, this one here is straight up delicious. Even to the non vegans!

Serves two (double recipe for more)
Prep time: 5-10 min.
cooking time about 15 min

1/2 lb of pasta of your choice
1/2 can coconut cream
Assorted mushrooms, sliced (the more, the merrier)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil and extra virgin olive oil
1-2 dried chilies
1 tbs of mushroom seasoning (from an asian market) or a pinch of mushroom liquid or powder stock
pasta water as needed
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

1) Start with your fried garlic topping. This will add so much flavor to the finished pasta. Heat up about 2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil in a wok or frying pan and gently fry garlic till light golden brown. Do not burn. Poor olive oil and garlic into a bowl and set aside.
2) Heat up a tbs of oil and fry the mushrooms on high heat with generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. The panchetta in carbonara is super salty and we’re trying to replicate that creamy, salty flavor. I used 1/2 a box of button mushrooms and 1 cup of porcini mushrooms, but any will do. Stir and fry until cooked down a bit.
3) Start cooking the pasta according to directions. You will need some of the starchy pasta water to thicken the sauce. Also, remember that the pasta will finish cooking in the mushroom sauce.
4) When the pasta has cooked about halfway, go back to the mushrooms to finish the sauce. Add the coconut cream, 1-2 dried red chilies if you want a tiny kick (as long as they are not broken and the seeds stay inside, the pasta will not be spicy), mushroom stock or seasoning and stir. Cook down for a couple minutes, and add in 1 small ladle of the pasta water if needed. It’s ok if it is soupy, as the noodles will absorb a lot of liquid when you add them.
5) Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper if needed.
6) Before the pasta reaches even al dente, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the mushroom sauce. Cook down until pasta is perfectly al dente, stirring so that all the noodles absorb the stock. Add a bit more coconut cream or pasta water as needed.
7) Serve with fried garlic oil on top!