Monday, September 25, 2017

A Hearty Curry That's Colorful Too


Let's add an international accent to Tonia's Kitchen.  Author of Indian Cooking Unfolded Raghavan Iyer dropped by to tell Tonia about a delicious bulky yellow split peas and potatoes dish.  It's simple to make, Raghavan says you only boil the peas and potatoes together with turmeric.  Then you put together your spice package, cumin and coriander seeds along with dried red chilies.  The next part is important, dry toast the seeds and chilies in a skillet (Raghavan says this is critical for the taste).  They'll give off a smokey ambiance. Then place in a blender jar along with a whole tomato, then puree together. Serve with the potatoes, and enjoy.

1 cup yellow split peas 

  • 1 pound potatoes (Yukon gold or russet), peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (soak them in cold water to prevent browning; drain before use) 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric 
  • 2 to 4 dried red cayenne chiles (like chile de arbol), stems discarded 
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds 
  • 1 medium-size tomato, cored, and diced 
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt

  • Procedure
    1. Measure the peas into a medium-size saucepan. Cover it up with water and rinse the grains by rubbing them in-between your fingertips (I just use the fingers of one hand to do it). The water will become cloudy and may have some debris like the odd skin from the peas (even though they are skinless) or dust from the packaging. Drain this water. Repeat three to four times until the water, upon rinsing the peas, remains clearer. Measure and pour 4 cups water into the pan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. You will see some foam arise; scoop it out and discard it.
    2. Add the potatoes and turmeric to the peas, stirring once or twice. Lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Stew the mélange, stirring occasionally, until the peas are tender but still firm-looking and the potatoes are cooked, 20 to 25 minutes.
    3. While the peas and potatoes cook, preheat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Once the pan feels hot (a palm held close to the bottom will feel the heat), usually will take 2 to 4 minutes, sprinkle the chiles, coriander, and cumin into it. Toast the spices, shaking the pan very frequently, until the chiles blacken and smell smoky- hot and the seeds turn reddish brown and smell incredibly aromatic (nutty with citrus undertones), 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer this spice blend to a blender jar and plunk in the tomato. Puree, scraping the insides of the jar as needed, to make a smooth, reddish brown paste with a smoky aroma that is sure to knock your socks off.
    4. Once the peas are cooked, scrape the spicy (as in well-seasoned) tomato paste into the pan. I usually pour some of the liquid from the pan into the blender jar and process it for a brief second to wash out all the goodness into the water. Pour the washings back into the pot. Stir in the cilantro and salt.
    5. Crank up the heat to medium-high and vigorously boil the dal, uncovered, stirring occasionally, to allow the flavors to mingle and the sauce to slightly thicken, 12 to 15 minutes. If you wish for a thicker sauce, mash some of the peas and potatoes with the back of your spoon. Serve warm.