Toor Dal Palak

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Indian food may appear exotic to many North Americans with its extraordinary array of unfamiliar ingredients and spice blends, but exotic does not have to translate to being difficult or challenging once you have the ingredients on hand. In fact, Indian food is quite often the friend of the working family with little time to spare for preparation or cooking but with an appetite for nourishing and delicious meals.

Little could be faster or simpler than this tasty, filling and easily digestible Toor Dal and Spinach, an elegantly flavoured thick paste of protein-rich pulses and mineral-rich greens that makes a complete light meal when served on a bed of hot rice. Toor or toovar dal has a warm earthy taste and satisfyingly meaty texture that complements simple spice and vegetable additions, and is easily available in any Indian grocer along with the other ingredients in this dish. Nevertheless, split yellow peas may be substituted in a pinch, and a couple of crushed garlic cloves may be added at the same time as the ginger to replace the asafoetida if you don't have it on hand.
Toor Dal Palak (Toor Dal & Spinach)

2/3 cup toor dal
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 pound spinach, trimmed and chopped
1 tablespoon
ghee or a mix of butter and olive oil
1 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
3 dried whole red chilies
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

Thoroughly rinse the toor dal by scrubbing the pulses under running water. Place in a medium saucepan or wok and soak for 2-3 hours in 2 cups of water. Add the turmeric and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium and cook, partially covered, until the dal is tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in the spinach, replace the lid to partially covered, and continue to cook until the spinach is cooked and most of the liquid is gone. Turn off the heat and let the dal and spinach sit.

Heat the ghee or butter and olive oil mixture over medium heat in a frying pan. Toss in the chilies and ginger and fry, stirring frequently, until the ginger just begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garam masala, then add the asafoetida, stir once, and pour the seasonings into the dal and spinach. Stir in the lemon juice and salt.

Serve hot or warm on a bed of white rice. Serves 2 to 4.

Also recommended from Lisa's Kitchen:
Toor Dal Pumpkin Soup
Roasted Toor Dal and Coconut Chutney
Tarka Dal

Tuscan-Style Pinto Bean Soup with Kale

Tuscan-Style Pinto Bean Soup with Kale

Italian food has a knack for appealing in all weathers, hot or cold. Light and hearty at the same time, I couldn't resist one more kick at the old bean and vegetable soup can before the summer finally kicks in and lighter dinner fare takes over. And besides this soup looks lovely with a little summer sun streaming in through the window.

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Mushroom, Miso and Seaweed Soup

I've known about the health benefits of eating seaweed for years now, but earlier attempts to incorporate this mineral and vitamin rich sea vegetable into my diet didn't last for long. It's not because I didn't enjoy the salty strips, but I was less creative in the kitchen back then and didn't really know what to do with it, so usually I would end up nibbling on some dulse seaweed from the package.

I've since learned that seaweed can be sprinkled on salads, added to soups and sauces and even baked into a salty treat. Indeed, because of the saltiness of seaweed, it is an ideal addition to brothy soups, like this Miso, Mushroom and Seaweed soup that I made for the dinner the other night.

Not only does seaweed contain loads of minerals and vitamins essential to good health, it is also good for your skin and hair and is known to have cleansing properties. I now have three different types of seaweed on hand and plan to incorporate this healthy gift from the ocean into my diet more often.
Mushroom, Miso and Seaweed Soup

14 grams of mixed dried mushrooms
4 - 5 strips of wakame seaweed
6 ounces of button mushrooms, sliced
6 ounces of shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
1 large shallot, cut into thin strips
2 scallions, green and white parts, cut into thin rings
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons of dulse seaweed, crumbled or cut into small pieces
7 cups of water
2 tablespoons of dark miso
a splash of tamari sauce
freshly cracked black pepper to taste

In a small bowl, soak the dried mushrooms in 1 cup of hot water for 20 minutes. In another small bowl, soak the wakame in 1 cup of warm water for 20 minutes. Drain both the mushrooms and wakame seaweed, reserving the soaking liquid.

In a large pot, bring the reserved soaking liquid, along with the remaining 5 cups of water, and the ginger, white parts of the scallions and shallot to a boil. Now add the soaked dried and fresh mushrooms to the pot and the dulse seaweed and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes.

While the mushrooms are cooking, place the miso in a small bowl with a few tablespoons of hot water and mix with a fork until the miso is dissolved. Add to the soup pot, along with the wakame seaweed, tamari sauce and black pepper, and simmer gently for another few minutes. Adjust seasonings accordingly. Garnish each steaming bowl of soup with some of the scallion greens.

Serves 4.

More mushroom soups from my vegetarian kitchen:
Miso Soup with Wild Mushrooms
Wild Rice and Portobello Mushroom Soup
Coconut Soup with Mushrooms
Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Ricotta Crumpets

Ricotta Crumpets

Ricotta cheese is a staple in my kitchen, so when I saw Nina's recipe for these scrumptious crumpets, I immediately decided to serve them for dinner alongside a fresh vegetable salad. Nina topped hers with a lovely mulberry sauce, but looking for a sweet and spicy twist, and lacking mulberries besides, I topped mine with some jalapeno and apricot cheese spread. The possibilities for toppings are as endless as the imagination of the cook and they would be enjoyable for breakfast or brunch as well as dinner. I'll certainly be making these again.

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Kidney Beans in a Slowly Simmered Tomato Sauce with Shredded Paneer (Rajma)

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Kidney Beans in a Slowly Simmered Tomato Sauce with Shredded Paneer (Rajma)

This rich and gritty kidney bean curry is adapted from Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries, an extensive and creative collection of Indian creations that are straightforward to follow and easily changed to suit the preferences of the cook. This collection is not vegetarian, but even if you took out the meat and seafood recipes, you would still have a fat cookbook with lots of inviting vegetarian recipes.

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Red Wine and Sun-Dried Tomato Biscotti

Red Wine Biscotti

Over the Easter weekend, I tried some red wine biscotti and wanted to recreate the taste experience at home. I used very little sugar, but the addition of wine actually results in a savory, yet strangely sweet biscuit even though I used a dry red wine. I prepared the biscotti to serve with some homemade Kalamata olive tapenade, but these are an enjoyable snack all on their own.

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Quinoa Breakfast Hash

Quinoa Breakfast Hash

With a nearly perfect amino acid balance and a good supply of fiber, protein, iron, calcium, phosphorus and vitamins B and E, quinoa is just about as healthy a way to start off a day as you will find. Fried with vegetables and tossed with toasted sesame seeds, its naturally appealing nutty flavor is enhanced for a delicious contrast with the earthy saltiness of tamari sauce in a wholesome, gluten-free and extraordinary breakfast hash. It's also a great way to used leftover quinoa — substitute 1 cup of cooked quinoa for the dried quinoa in the recipe. Try this hash as a light lunch as well, with a fresh green salad on the side.

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Indian-Style Tomato Salad

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
I was originally going to make a tomato soup for this month's No Croutons Required, but eager for Spring, I decided to make this fresh and spicy Indian-style Tomato Salad instead. If only eating salads could bring about a quick change in the weather.

Holler has added a fun twist to the challenge this month. It was her birthday earlier in the month, so for this special birthday edition, Holler has asked participants to come up with a birthday menu that includes their entry for April. I would love to cook a special meal for Holler, but as she lives on the other side of the globe, this hasn't yet been possible, though it was fun thinking up a special dinner for my treasured friend. Maybe someday I'll get to cook for Holler.

Without further ado, here is my birthday menu.

Every special gathering calls out for appetizers, so for starters, I would serve Olive Tapenade,
Wild Mushroom Tapas Served on Crusty Bread with Goat's Cheese and
Whole Meal Biscuits

For the first course, my Indian-Style Tomato Salad and
Vegetarian Mulligatawny Soup

For the main component of the meal, Mushroom Pulao Rice,
Mung Beans with Paneer Cheese and
Paratha with Sweet Potato and Potato Filling

And for dessert, Frozen Mango Lime Lassi,
Jalapeno Cheddar Shortbread and
Peanut Butter Chocolate Squares

Of course, the entire meal is served with some robust red wine.
Indian-Style Tomato Salad

For the salad:

3 medium-large tomatoes, chopped into chunks
1/2 cup of corn kernels
2-3 jalapeno peppers, sliced into strips
1/4 cup of fresh parsley, coarsely chopped

For the dressing:

1 shallot, sliced into strips
1/2 - 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger, sliced into very thin strips
juice from one lime
1/4 cup of olive oil
a splash of balsamic vinegar
2/3 teaspoon of chat masala
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Combine the ingredients for the salad in a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Pour over the salad and toss.

Serves 4 as a side dish.

More salad's from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Cannellini Bean and Grape Tomato Salad with Lemon Dressing and Rosemary-Garlic Infused Olive Oil
Greek Salad
Kidney Bean Salad

Kalamata Olive Tapenade

Kalamata Olive Tapenade
If you are an olive fan, then you will want to whip up a batch of this delightful sharp and tangy olive paste that I was inspired to make after seeing Ivy's version. I used plump Kalamata olives and omitted the capers and anchovies that are usually included in traditional recipes, adding some garlic, a shallot and some goat cheese instead. Make sure to use good quality ingredients, and especially avoid buying jarred olives. If you live in London, Ontario, the best olives I've found to date can be purchased from The Perfect Bakery.

If you can resist the urge to eat it by the spoonful, serve with crackers, crusty bread, as a dip with vegetables, or with some pasta.

For the ultimate taste experience, spread over some Red Wine Biscotti. Simplicity at its most seductive.

Kalamata Olive Tapenade Kalamata Olive Tapenade
Recipe by
Adapted from Kopiaste
Published on April 15, 2009

Sharp and tangy Kalamata olive tapenade

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  • 1 generous cup Kalamata olives, pitted
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until you have a thick paste. Adjust seasonings according to taste.

  • Refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 to 4 days.

Makes 3/4 cup
Kalamata Olive Tapenade
Other suggestions for olives:
Olive Hummus
Goat Cheese Olive Balls
Olive Cheese Balls
Olive and Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Chocolate Orange Cookies

It's been a while since I have shared a sweet baked treat with my readers, but thanks to Holler, who tempted me with these Chocolate Orange Cookies, the dry spell has been broken. Much like a savory biscuit, despite the big chunks of dark chocolate, these cookies will stay moist for a few days stored in an air tight container provided they are not devoured shortly after coming out of the oven.

These cookies are so highly recommended that I am sharing the recipe with Bookmarked Recipes, hosted this week by Tami's Kitchen Table Talk.

Chocolate Orange Cookies

3 cups of unbleached white flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of butter, softened
100 grams of cream cheese, softened
rind from one orange, grated
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
3 tablespoons of orange juice
2 eggs
150 grams of dark baking chocolate, cut into chunks

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Now add the orange juice, orange zest and vanilla and stir to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated.

Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl and stir. Add the chocolate bits, stir, and add the rest of the flour to the bowl. Stir until everything is well combined, but take care not to over mix.

Line two baking pans with parchment paper. Place heaping teaspoons of dough onto the sheets, flatten a bit and bake (in two batches) in a preheated 350 degree oven for 12 - 15 minutes, or until the cookies begin to turn golden. Leave on the sheet for a minute and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Yields roughly 2 dozen cookies.

More cookie recipes from Lisa's Kitchen:
Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Beetroot Rasam

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
When I first starting cooking Indian, shortly after my transition to a vegetarian diet, my focus was mainly on dishes common to the Northern region. As I became comfortable with the cooking techniques and ingredients commonly used, I started experimenting more, coming up with fusion style dishes. Lately I'm captivated by traditional South Indian cuisine, and Chandra Padmanabhan has certainly been an inspiration and expanded my culinary horizons. Dakshinwas my first introduction to her recipes and so impressed was I with the results, I hunted down a copy of Southern Spice. My copy arrived a few weeks back and this cleansing Beetroot Rasam stood out right away.

Traditionally served as the second course of the meal, after thick and spicy sambars, rasams are generally soupier and thinner, commonly made up of fresh spice powders, tamarind, tomatoes and lemon or lime juice.

I do rely on ground spice powders, with most satisfying results, but honestly, taking the little extra time to roast some seeds and grind them into a paste or powder is well worth the effort. As is the little time involved to fry up the crunchy tempering. As Ms. Padmanabhan reminds us, "Mastery over seasonings can make all the difference."

My version is a thicker rasam that I served for a one course dinner with hot basmati rice, mixed with some of my Tamarind Chutney. On the side, the rich green leaves from the beets, dressed with a small minced shallot, juice from half a lemon, a few splashes of olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt and some freshly cracked pepper.
I might add this rasam would be an ideal appetizer too.
Beetroot Rasam

3 small beets, left whole and unpeeled
a medium lime-sized piece of tamarind
2 tablespoons of jaggery, or brown sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt

For the Spice Paste:

2 teaspoons of sesame oil
1 heaping tablespoon of coriander seeds
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds
1/2 teaspoon of asafoetida powder
6 dry, hot, red chillies

1 heaping tablespoon of coconut

For Tempering:

2 teaspoons of ghee, or a mixture of butter and oil
1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 dry red chili, split in half
small handful of dried curry leaves

2 tablespoon of chopped fresh coriander leaves

Boil the whole beetroot until tender. Let cool a bit, then peel, transfer to a small bowl and mash. Set aside.

Soak the tamarind in 1 1/2 cups of hot water for 15 minutes. Strain the juice into another bowl, squeezing as much juice out of the tamarind pulp as you can. Discard the pulp and set the tamarind liquid aside.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the spice paste ingredients, with the exception of the coconut. Stir and fry until the seeds are fragrant - roughly 5 minutes. Add the coconut to the pan, stir and add a few tablespoons of water. Remove from the heat, cool slightly and then grind to a paste. Set aside.

In a medium pot, combine the tamarind juice, jaggery (or brown sugar) and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Now add the mashed beet and spice paste. Add more water if you want a thinner rasam. Simmer, uncovered, for about 5 - 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For the tempering, heat the ghee (or butter and oil) in a small saucepan over medium heat. When hot add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, red chili and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds turn grey and begin to pop, pour into the rasam. Stir and cover and let sit for a few minutes.

Serve hot, garnished with coriander leaves.
More beet goodness:
Beet, Barley and Black Bean Soup
Beetroot and Quinoa Salad with Feta and Olives
Creamy Beet Borscht
Orange and Beet Soup

And for dessert, Beetroot Cake

Scalloped Potatoes with Coconut Milk and Mushrooms

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Scalloped Potatoes with Coconut Milk and Mushrooms
This past weekend I was treated to a visit from my Dad. I always make a point of making a special meal for him and knowing how much he enjoys potatoes, I immediately thought of this recipe for scalloped potatoes with coconut milk and chilies that I found in my treasured and generously post-it-noted marked copy of 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer. I've made several versions of scalloped potatoes in the past, but the idea of a spicy version was too much to resist. Indeed! This one received rave reviews from my dinner guests.

The only significant change I made was to add some sliced mushrooms to the dish. You will need to mix up some of this fiery red chili and vinegar paste (balchao masala) in preparation. Alternately, you could come up with your own fresh chili and spice paste, but I really think the balchao masala adds an essential kick. For a slightly thicker sauce, whisk a few teaspoons of unbleached white flour or chickpea flour into the coconut and masala paste.

I served this alongside shredded paneer with tomatoes, chilies, mushrooms and chickpeas.

Scalloped Potatoes with Coconut MilkScalloped Potatoes with Coconut Milk and Mushrooms
Recipe by
Adapted from 660 Curries
Cuisine: Indian
Published on April 9, 2009

Simple, spicy and delicious vegan scalloped potatoes and mushrooms

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  • 1 lb (1/2 kg) potatoes, sliced
  • 13.5 oz (400 ml) can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons red chili and vinegar paste (recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 to 8 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 10 fresh curry leaves (optional)
  • Soak the sliced potatoes in cold water for 30 minutes, then drain and set aside.

  • Butter or oil a casserole dish and preheat an oven to 350°.

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, red chili and vinegar paste and salt.

  • Cover the bottom of the casserole dish with a layer of sliced potatoes. Sprinkle a third of the green onions and a third of the sliced mushrooms over the potatoes. Pour a third of the coconut milk sauce on top. Repeat two more times. Top with curry leaves if using.

  • Cover and cook for 45 to 50 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Remove the lid and continue to cook until the potatoes are browned, about 15 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

Makes 4 main servings or 6 to 8 side servings

Red Chili and Vinegar Paste (Balchao Masala)Red Chili and Vinegar Paste (Balchao Masala)
Recipe by
Adapted from 660 Curries
Cuisine: Indian
First published on April 6, 2009

A simple, fiery and pungent chili and vinegar paste — great for keeping around to add to soups and curries

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  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • 1 cup dried whole red chilies
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 10 cloves garlic, cut in half
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
  • 6-inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • Begin by pouring the vinegar into a blender. Add the remaining ingredients and process until you have a thick paste. Scrape down the sides of the blender as necessary.

  • Refrigerate in a sterilized jar for up to 2 weeks or freeze for later use.

Makes 1 cup
Scalloped Potatoes with Coconut Milk and Mushrooms

Other potato recipes from Lisa's Kitchen:
Scalloped Potatoes with Wild Mushroom Soup
Spicy Potato Pancakes
Aloo Gobi
Mushroom and Jalapeno Breakfast Hash

Miso Soup with Wild Mushrooms

Miso Soup with Wild Mushrooms

Ironically, the first robin I spotted this season was hanging around just outside my kitchen window in the snow. As I paced back and forth, flipping through pages and pages of recipes, thinking of what to make when I didn't soak a whole grain and/or bean the night before, and too lazy and skeptical to step out into the wind to pick up some fresh produce, I conjured up the idea of a warming bowl of soup made with staples on hand — yes, mushrooms are a staple in my kitchen! — to go along with some ricotta cheese biscuits.

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Red Chili and Vinegar Paste (Balchao Masala)

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Red Chili and Vinegar Paste (Balchao Masala)
Fresh spice blends, pastes and sauces are an essential element in many Indian dishes. The longer I immerse myself into the art of Indian cooking, the more I find myself making my own preparations. A complexity is imparted to the food that simply cannot be recreated by using ready-made versions produced outside of the kitchen of the cook looking to add a unique touch. And for the most part, the effort involved is minimal.

This recipe does come with a warning. The spicier the better is my motto, but even I was gulping water and spooning some cooling yogurt into my mouth to ease the heat after tasting a scant 1/2 teaspoon of this pungent, fiery paste on its own. When incorporated into curries and their accompaniments, however, the heat is a necessary and sufficient condition. This potent paste has the advantage of lasting for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator, and can be stored in the freezer too.

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Cheesy Scrambled Eggs

After many attempts, I have finally perfected my popular cheesy scrambled eggs. The addition of ricotta, or heavy cream if you prefer, results in a nice fluffy batch. Often I would use yogurt but sometimes the eggs turned out a bit watery. I've experimented with various types of cheese, and found extra old cheddar works well, as does asiago, along with some grated Parmesan. This time I used paneer, as I had some left over after making Shredded Paneer with Tomatoes, Chilies, Mushrooms and Chickpeas. This might be my favorite version to date. Filling enough to serve for dinner, and easy enough to prepare for a fairly quick breakfast, the only risk is the temptation to overindulge.
Cheesy Scrambled Eggs

1 shallot or 1 small onion, chopped
2 - 3 hot green chilies, finely chopped
6 large eggs
a few heaping teaspoons of ricotta cheese or 1 tablespoon of heavy cream
1 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of coriander
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
1/2 - 1 teaspoon of sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
generous 1/2 cup of grated cheese (I used shredded paneer)

In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, ricotta cheese (or heavy cream), spices, salt and pepper until frothy. Add the cheese and beat some more.

Heat a tablespoon of butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the shallot (or onion) to the pan, and stir and fry for a few minutes. Add the hot chilies and stir for another minute. Now add the egg mixture to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, taking care to scrape the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until the eggs are dry and fluffy.

Serves 2 -3.
Other egg dishes from Lisa's Kitchen:
Greek Scrambled Eggs with Tomato and Feta
Indian-Style Baked Eggs Florentine

Rice Pongal

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Rice is served more than a few times a week in my kitchen, and though I do enjoy plain basmati rice with some butter, or some curried dal poured over top, I like to experiment with various flavour combinations. My latest preparation was inspired by Dakshin, a beautiful cookbook featuring some jewels from South India. Pongal is a dish consisting of rice, lentils and spices. Rather moist in consistency, it's balanced enough to be served as a meal by itself, perhaps with some flatbread, or you can serve it as part of a larger meal with another legume dish, and some vegetables.

I'd also like to share some exciting news with my readers. Lisa's Kitchen is the featured blog this month for Tried and Tasted, a monthly event started by Zlamushka and hosted this month by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen. For those unfamiliar with the event, each month a different blog is featured and participants are invited to browse through the archives and try some of the recipes and post about their experience. I'm flattered to be the focus this month, and I can't wait to see which recipes my fellow cooks choose. Maintaining a food blog is a lot of work, but the rewards are many and asides from the friends I have made and the lovely comments and feedback, one of the greatest returns for my efforts is knowing that others are preparing and enjoying my creations.
Rice Pongal

1/4 cup of raw cashews, halved
2 tablespoons of ghee, or a mixture of butter and oil
1 cup of basmati rice
1/2 cup of split mung beans (moong dal)
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
4 1/2 cups of water

3 tablespoons of ghee, or a mixture of butter and oil
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon of asafoetida powder
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
handful of dry curry leaves
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 cup of dried coconut

Rinse the rice well in a fine strainer. Transfer to bowl, cover with water, swish it around a few times, drain and repeat until the water is relatively clear and no longer cloudy. Drain, cover with water and soak the rice for about 20 minutes or longer. Drain and set aside to air dry for 15 minutes or so.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the ghee in a heavy frying pan over medium heat. When hot, toss in the cashews and stir and fry until they turn brown - roughly 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

In a large pot or wok, dry roast the rice for 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium large saucepan. Now dry roast the moong dal in the wok or large pot for 5 minutes. Wash in a strainer and add to the pot with the rice, along with the turmeric and 4 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover and simmer until the dal and rice is cooked and the water is mostly evaporated - roughly 30 minutes. Add more water if necessary. Set aside.

Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of ghee in a large wok of pot over medium heat. When hot, add the cumin, cracked black pepper, asafoetida, ginger and the curry leaves. Stir and fry for a minute. Add the rice and dal to the pan, along with the coconut and salt and cook for another few minutes, adding a bit of water to the pan if desired.

Garnish with the roasted cashews.

Serves 6.
More delightful rice dishes:
Lime Flavoured Rice with Split Peas
Lemon Rice with Toasted Cashews
Tamarind Rice
Cracked Black Pepper Rice

Shredded Paneer with Tomatoes, Chilies, Mushrooms and Chickpeas

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Craving some silky paneer, I came up with this spicy dish that includes some of my favorite textures and flavours. Truly a taste experience, it gets better with each bite. A colourful addition to any Indian meal, it could be served over steaming hot rice for dinner, or as a side to compliment vegetable and dal dishes. I served some of the leftovers with buttered toast for breakfast.
Shredded Paneer with Tomatoes, Chilies, Mushrooms and Chickpeas

2 teaspoons of oil
1 1/2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds
5 - 6 hot green chilies, minced
1 teaspoon of turmeric
2 teaspoons of ground coriander
1/2 - 1 teaspoon of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon of asafetida
3 tablespoons of dried fenugreek leaves

3 medium large tomatoes, finely chopped
1 teaspoons of sea salt
200 grams of paneer, shredded
1 cup of cooked chickpeas

8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Heat the oil in a large wok over medium heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds and stir and fry for a few minutes or until the cumin seeds darken a few shades. Add the chilies to the pan and cook for another minute. Add the ground spices, asafetida and fenugreek leaves, stir and add the tomatoes and salt to the pan. Cook for roughly 5 - 10 minutes or until the tomatoes soften up and form a sauce-like consistency.

Now add the shredded paneer to the pan, along with the cooked chickpeas. Simmer gently for roughly 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the mushrooms and cook until they are browned and just begin to release their juices. Add the mushrooms to the paneer mixture, along with the cilantro, and cook for another minute or two. Serve hot in a bowl, or over a hot bed of rice.

Serves 4.
If you love paneer, you will want to try:
Paneer Pizza on Naan Bread
Mung Beans with Paneer Cheese
Matar Paneer
Baked Paneer and Chickpea Cutlets
Mung Beans with Cottage Cheese