With limited time, I have been trying to multi-task. Studying on the subway to work… picking up groceries after my weekend work-out… and even combining social activities with cooking. While still cooking the majority of my meals on the weekend, I have invited friends to come over and help cook. Cooking + friends = fun times! Leftovers are good for me, too! While I usually make 2 dishes and a dressing each week, I try to pare my menu down when friends are over. One dish only. Preferably a recipe I know tastes good.
This is another one of Rob’s Repeater Recipes. Whenever we see cauliflower on sale, this is what tugs at our tummies. Red lentils envelope chunks of cauliflower in this quick curry. Of course, what separates each curry is the specific spice blend and this uses Bangladesh’s signature spice mix: panch phoran (Bengali 5 spice mix). You might remember it from my Bengali Quinoa and Spinach Bowl with the simple combination of cumin, fennel, nigella, fenugreek and mustard seeds. For this version, I stole some cauliflower to make (Baked!) Lemon Cilantro Pakoras and swapped in additional zucchini.
I love it when Rob helps out in the kitchen, and he has really taken to sharing his Indian cooking tips with my friends. We’ve also made Dal Bhat and the Split Pea Dal with Ginger and Lime at other times, highlighting simple and tasty Indian home cooking. These are all lessons from Indian Cooking 101.. what will Indian Cooking 102 include?
Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran
Adapted from Fat Free Vegan
1.5 cups red lentils
4 cups water
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tbsp coconut oil (or oil of choice)
3 tbsp panch phoran (or use 1.5 tsp each of: cumin seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds, fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds)
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Aleppo chile flakes
1 tsp minced ginger
2 cups homemade pureed tomatoes (or 15 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes)
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets (we used half cauliflower and 300g zucchini for this batch. note: I prefer all cauliflower)
1/2 cup water
1. Rinse lentils and drain. In a medium pot, add lentils, water and turmeric. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until lentils are tender, around 15-30 minutes. Once cooked, add salt and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the remainder of your ingredients. In a large non-stick deep skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add panch phoran and stir to infuse the oil. Cover and allow mustard seeds to pop. When the clinking stops, add the onion, garlic, chile flakes and ginger. Saute until onion is softened, around 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cauliflower (and optional zucchini) and water. Stir to combine. Cover skillet and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, around 10 minutes.
3. Once both the cauliflower and lentils are finished, add the lentils to the cauliflower mixture. Stir well, taste and adjust salt and pepper. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes to allow the flavours to blend. Serve with rice or scoop up with naan.