Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer comfort food

Summer food is amazing. Especially in Wisconsin, where you can get almost all your produce right off the farm all summer long. My summer diet is usually pretty raw—there isn’t much summer here so I try and get outside to play as much as possible! There is always so much going on that it is difficult to find the time to cook tasty things unless they are for a party or friends coming over.

But…this weekend little chill crept up to me and said something like this:

“Hey psst. PSST! That thing, it’s called a stove. It is lonely. And the temperature is down to 70° so we may as well cook something!”

And so I did, just for me!

I’ve always found Indira’s (of Mahanandi) recipes to be amazingly delicious, inspiring, healthy, and comforting. I was craving lots of warm spices, so I used star anise, cardamom, cumin seeds, whole peppercorns, and fresh ginger to make and Indira-inspired dish on this beautiful, late-summer weekend!

½ cup toor dal, rinsed
1 whole star anise
4 green cardamom pods
1 tsp peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2  cloves fresh garlic, minced
½ cup fresh coriander (cilantro), plus extra to finish
1 onion chopped
2 cups fresh greens (kale or spinach is good) torn into bite sized bits
2 tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt

1)    Wash the toor dal and pick out any rocks, cement chunks, or whatever inedible may have traveled with your little beans. Put them in a pot and cover them with cold water (3:1 ratio water to beans). Boil them until soft. Set aside.
2)     Heat the butter in a sauté pan until it is frothy. Add in the star anise and cook for a few seconds. Add the cardamom pods, followed by the peppercorns and cumin seeds. The important thing here is to cook each spice on it’s own for a few seconds. As soon as you can smell it, add the next one. Add the onions and sauté until brown. Add the ginger and garlic, sauté for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Don’t let the garlic burn!!
3)    Add the coriander and greens to the spice mix in the sauté pan. Add the tomatoes. If the mix is too dry add a little water. Cover and simmer until your greens are tender. If I am using spinach I add the tomatoes right away, but if I’m using kale or collards I usually let the greens cook for awhile before adding the tomatoes to avoid overcooking the tomatoes.
4)    Add your cooked toor dal to your spices and greens, mix and adjust seasonings. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes to let all the flavors combine. Mix in the Greek yogurt when the mix has cooled a little (so the milk proteins don’t separate too much). 

I serve this right away with brown rice or naan. And I use lots of extra fresh coriander on top!  If you are having friends over and want to serve this it is fun to put it in glass jars (like a Ball jar or something) laying it with rice and fresh coriander. It’s pretty like that.

Thanks for cooking with me, and remember to get your produce and dairy products from your local farm!


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