Q Please suggest an easy recipe for a mildly spiced chana dal.
A Chana dal or yellow dried split bengal gram is comfort food for most Indians and makes a perfect accompaniment to steamed rice. Here’s how I like to make it.
Wash and drain 250g of chana dal. Boil it in 900ml water until done, skimming off any froth that collects on the surface (you can also pressure-cook the dal to hasten the process.) Meanwhile, finely chop 1 small onion and 3-4 green chillies, and julienne a 2cm piece of ginger. Purée together 3 tomatoes and 3 garlic cloves. Once the dal is cooked, mash it slightly with a whisk.
Now heat 3 tbsp oil or ghee in a saucepan and add 1 tbsp cumin seeds. When it splutters, add onion, ginger and chillies. Sauté until onion is golden brown. Add tomato-garlic purée and stir well. Add 3/4 tsp each of turmeric and garam masala powders and 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder. Stir and add 100ml water. Season with salt and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add dal, stir, adjust consistency and bring it to the boil. Check seasoning, garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot.
Q How can I prevent a cut avocado from browning?
A What I generally do is brush olive oil or lime juice all over the cut side of the avocado and then refrigerate it in an airtight container. If you’re going to use the avocado to make guacamole, then chop up some onions and layer an airtight container with it, then place the avocado – cut side up – over it. Close the container and refrigerate.
Q How can I make a creamy soup that is dairy-free?
A Cashew cream is a great substitute. It not only adds a sweetish taste but gives the soup a silky texture. Just soak 1 cup of raw cashews in 3/4 cup of water overnight. The next day, rinse the cashews and purée to make a smooth paste. Add the cashew cream to the soup towards the end and let it simmer, stirring regularly until you have the desired consistency.