In these parts, dhal and rice is a staple food. My first encounter with it was at our neighborhood Indian Restaurant’s lunch buffet. Their’s is a black bean color and struck me as tasting like Beanie Weenies, so I tended to skip it.
However, my taste buds have grown up and have come around to this staple dish. Dhal is very much like curry, an algamation of many spices coming together in a myriad of tasty ways.
One of my favorite campus lunch spots, Holy Cow, offers a dhal and rice bowl with a scoop of coconut chutney. Inspired I set about to recreate their goodness infused with my favorite flavor notes: butternut squash and tamarind. Great on top of chewy brown rice, we also enjoy this with a baked cut up Morningstar Chik Patty…
Butternut Squash Dhal with Coconut Chutney
My dhal recipe makes use of my trusty pressure cooker. If you are without such a fortunate tool, simply extend the cooking time and replensh liquids as needed.
In a pressure cooker saute:
- 1/2 of a large onion, chopped
When the onions turn translucent, add:
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 Tbs yellow curry paste
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp clove
- 1/4 tsp tumeric
Stir and cook briefly, about 1 minute.
- 1 cup of lentils
- 10 oz of chopped butternut squash
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
Lid, and bring pressure cooker up to pressure. Cook over low heat, maintaining pressure for 20 minutes or until lentils are soft and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper, a Tbs of vinegar and the following tamarind liquid. Serve atop rice with a scoop of chutney and garnish with cilantro.
Tamarind Seasoning Liquid
This is a favorite top note to add to dhal and curries. Tamarind is quite tart, but lends a surprising perfect touch to many dishes.
Using tamarind paste sold in a compact brick, break off a 1 inch piece. Break up into 1 cup of water and heat. Stir to faciliate the tamarind paste breaking up into a sauce. Continue to heat and stir till the pulp is broken up. Use this resulting liquid as a finishing season to the dhal, stirring in 1/2 – 3/4 cup. Additionally the liquid may be drizzle on each dish individually.
Is chutney a respite from spiciness? A hit of chili? A salve for the burn? I’m not entirely sure. I use it as a little of all of the above. Mainly I think its another layer of flavor with which one may individually alter their dish. For families cooking for both kids and adults, chutney may serve as a way to individually spice up a dish, while allowing the main meal to remain on a kid appropriate spice level.
In a food processor puree thoroughly:
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 cup of onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tsp ginger
- 2 tsp jalapeno
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp peanut butter
- 1 Tbs coconut milk
- 2 Tbs mandarin orange juice
- several mandarin orange slices, no seeds