Dinner, dinner, oh dinner! Why art thou so difficult to pin down? This quick Indian dinner of three quick recipes – Moong-Masoor Dal, Mom’s Paneer Saute and Rice will, I hope solve your conundrum as it has mine many a nights.
The calendar year for me has always been divided into two blocks, school months and holiday months. In India, schools run from July to April with a month and a half or two of summer vacations and a short winter break. So, for me the period from May until July was always the time to catch up on books, movies, to sleep late and eat lots of yummy home cooked, mommy cooked food 🙂 ummmmm bliss!
But for some people in this world school is a never-ending, recurring process. My calendar is getting re-blocked and re-coded. Now the fun ends when September begins 🙁
I have hopped onto the back to school wagon here in the States. While it’s great to be back in a classroom, pushed to thinking out of the box, dinners are challenging on school nights. Thankfully, as a graduate student I am not in class every single day of the week. So, there are days that I can still take my own sweet time to cook but for the rest of the week I do a quick Indian dinner which is filling and fairly healthy.
For a Quick Indian Dinner, here’s what you’ll need:
For Moong-masoor dal; serves 2-3, cooking time 20 minutes.
- Split moong dal, 1/2 cup
- Split masoor dal, 1/2 cup
- Water 2 1/2 cups for pressure cooking
- Turmeric 1 tsp
- Salt 1 tsp
- The tempering ingredients are the same for the lentils and the paneer.
- Oil, vegetable/olive, 2 tablespoons.
- Cumin seeds, 2 tsp
- Onions, 2, chopped, not too fine.
- Green chillies, chopped, 2
- Garlic pods, chopped, 3-4
- Coriander powder, 2 tsp
- Red chilli powder, 2 tsp
- Black pepper powder, 2 tsp
- Chopped coriander (cilantro) 5-6 sprigs
For the Dal: Both these lentils, masoor and moong are usually cooked together. So mix them together in a bowl and wash them well. Wash until the water runs clear. Once satisfied that they are as clean as you want them, put them into the pressure cooker. Add twice the amount of water i.e. 2 to 2 1/2 cups. Add a teaspoon of salt and of turmeric powder. Close the lid, put on the whistle and cook on high heat until you get the first whistle. This mix of lentils cooks very quickly. So after the first whistle turn down the heat and let it simmer until you get a weak second whistle, turn if off after that.
While the dal is getting pressure cooked, put on the rice.
Now for the tempering. You only need to chop things once. The ingredients for tempering the paneer and the dal are the same except for tomatoes, all we need to do is divide them evenly. I use the same skillet for preparing the tempering for the dal and then cook the paneer in the same. Once done chopping, dicing and slicing, heat one tablespoon oil in a skillet. Add cumin seeds, once they start spluttering add garlic and onions. Cook them until translucent. Then add coriander powder, powdered black pepper and red chilli powder. Cook for a few minutes. Open the pressure cooker and add the tempering to it. Mix well and let it sit. I recommend heating it a little before serving. Garnish with chopped coriander (cilantro).
For the Paneer, cooking time 20 minutes.
- Paneer, 1 pound, cubed.
- Onion, 1, sliced,
- Garlic pods, 1-2, finely chopped,
- Tomatoes, 2, cubed.
- Green Pepper, 1, chopped (optional),
- Peppercorns, 5-8.
- Red chilli powder, 1tsp.
- Cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp.
- Coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp.
- Salt to taste
Use the same skillet for cooking paneer. Add a tablespoon of oil, heat it and as before add a teaspoon of cumin seeds, also add a teaspoon of coriander seeds and a few peppercorns. Put in the chopped garlic and onions. Add salt and pepper and saute till the onions become translucent. Throw in the tomatoes and cook them until they become soft and you can mash them with the back of a spoon. If using, add green pepper at this point. Cook for another 2 minutes- I like to keep the crunch of the peppers. If you enjoy your food spicy add some chilli powder. Otherwise, just mix in the cubed paneer, cover and let it sit on sim for a few minutes (approximately 5). Garnish with chopped coriander (cilantro) and serve.
The three of them, rice, dal and paneer go together very well and make for a delicious and fulfilling meal. Enjoy!
Rice, cooking time 15-20 minutes.
Basmati rice, 1 1/2 cup, washed.
Water 3 cups for cooking.
You should wash the rice under running water too and once the water runs clean throw them into a pot. Add twice the amount of water, 3 cups in this case. Cover and cook on medium heat. Basmati rice should not be disturbed while cooking. When you see fissures of steam and no sound of bubbling water, the rice are ready. Turn off the heat and let them sit.
Moong masoor dal and rice will take about 15 to 20 minutes to cook.
Moong Masoor Dal – The Essential Indian Dal You Must Cook
- Pressure Cooker
For Steaming Dal
- 1/2 cup Masoor dal
- 1/2 cup Moong dal Yellow, husked moong dal
- 1 tsp Turmeric
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 1/2 cup Water For steaming dal.
For the Tempering / Tadka
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil Or any other cooking oil.
- 2 tsp Cumin seeds
- 2 Green chillies, chopped Can be skipped
- 1 Onion, finely chopped Or use 1/2 a large onion, preferably red.
- 3 – 4 Garlic pods, chopped
- 2 tsp Coriander powder
- 2 tsp Red chilli powder
- 2 tsp Black pepper, crushed
- 5-6 sprigs Fresh Coriander Cleaned and chopped
- The first step is to measure both dals in a bowl and then wash them in running water until the water runs clean.
- Let the dals soak while you put a pressure cooker on the stove at medium high heat. Add dals with twice the amount of water, salt and turmeric. Close lid and steam until first whistle. Turn down heat to simmer with the lid clsoed for another 10 minutes.
- Heat one tablespoon of oil in a skillet and then add cumin seeds. Followed by chillies, garlic and onion. Cook until onion and garlic are just starting to brown. Add dry spices. Cook only for a minute or two until the spices are blooming.
- Finally, open the lid of the pressure cooker and add tadka to it. Mix it well and let the dal simmer on low heat, with open lid, until ready to serve. Garnish with fresh coriander.