Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

Archive for October, 2010

A south Indian meal, Part II (Dosa)

Posted by fourclankitchen on October 24, 2010

This is part of a 4 part blog consisting of Sambar (posted last week), Dosa, fried potatoes and coconut chutney.  A dosa is basically a crepe made out of fermented rice and lentils. Its closest relative (to my knowledge) is the Ehiopian Injera.   The batter is a pain to make, in the same way that sourdough bread is a pain.  Fortunately, the Indian grocery store sells the batter, making this an option for busy people.  So here is how:

Its best to have the batter at room temperature.  It is best to make these on a nonstick pan when you first start and then graduate to a really well seasoned cast iron griddle.  So heat your nonstick skillet on medium heat for a few minutes until is is uniformly hot and drops of water skitter on it.  Pour a few drops of oil on the skillet.  When hot, spread the oil uniformly over the pan using a paper towel.  Pour about a fourth of a cup (or less) of the batter on the skillet as you would for a pancake.  Working quickly, spread the batter with the back of a rounded spoon on to your skillet so that it resembles a thickish crepe (see images).  In a minute or so, make a slit in the middle of the dosa and pour a drop of oil to it.  Next, spread a few drops along the edge of the dosa.  When the edges of the dosa are brown (another minute or so), take a thin spatula, loosen the dosa and flip it over.  Cook the second side for a minute or so.  Slide it off the pan and onto a plate.  Eat it, as I have proposed with sambar, potatoes and chutney, or with any savory filling of your choice.  Freeze any unused batter; the batter will keep for several days in the fridge and months in the freezer.  Thaw in the fridge overnight and mix well before using a second time.

The image below is from last weeks blog and shows the accompaniments that go along with the dosa.

Posted in Asian, Breads, Breakfast, Brunch, Indian Food, Main Dishes, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A South Indian Meal in 4 parts-Part 1: (Sambar)

Posted by fourclankitchen on October 17, 2010

Many in India will claim that this is their favorite breakfast or dinner meal.  It consists of rice and lentil crepes (dosas), eaten with a lentil and vegetable dish (sambar), a spicy coconut chutney (tenga sadam) and a mild potato curry.    If you make them all together, you will spend 1 1/2 hours in the kitchen and will wash at least 4 pans.  But at the end you will have 2 full meals which are really nutritious and which together cost less than $ 15.  Also, you dont have to do them together.  You could do the dosas (crepes) and one other item or you could eat the sambar (lentils) as a soup or over rice.  These dishes require a trip to the Indian grocery store, but if you are a flavor hound like I am, you will find that this trip and this particular repertoire of dishes is well worth it.

Because these dishes are complicated and require ingredients novel to many, let me break this meal  into 4 blogs.  I will begin with the sambar.


First a brief introduction to the ingredients that you may not know about:

1. Pigeon Peas (Arhar or Toor Dal)

This is the most flavorful yellow lentil I know of.  It is sold as a whole pea (skin on), whose flavor is really very different from the split and skinned version you will use here.  2 varieties of the latter are sold in the Indian grocery store:  one oiled (I guess for preservation), nearly orange and icky and the other, pale yellow and flavorful.  This is the one you want.  Wash multiple times as you would rice, rubbing the lentils with your hands till the wash water comes clean- about 3-4 times.

2.Curry Leaves: Leaves  from the Curry Leaf Tree (Murraya koenigii), are widely used for flavoring curries in the southern part of India.  The flavor is unique and cannot be replicated by substitutes or even by dried curry leaf powder.  Get fresh leaves from the Indian grocery store,  use within a few days and store unused leaves in the freezer, where they keep for months.  If you cant find it, just omit it.  The flavor wont be the same, but it will be good.

3.  Tamarind paste: This concentrate is made from the pulp of the Tamarind  (Tamarindus indica) fruit and is widely used in the diverse cuisines of Asia.  The flavor is very sour, but it also has a sweet undertone so that you could nearly think of this paste as tamarind molasses.  In many Indian dishes, its near sweetness is enhanced by making chutneys where it is paired with dates, or unrefined sugar (jaggery, gud) and other sweet flavors.  It is unbelievably nutritious, with the highest vitamin C content of any vegetable.  So use it often.  If you cant find it, a good substitute is a raw mango.  Again, the flavor wont be the same, but it will be good.

4.  Sambar Powder: This is a curry powder of sorts and contains a mind boggling array of ingredients.  I have never bothered to make it at home.  I just buy it.  It is spicy, so use sparingly if you have a low tolerance for the hot stuff.


A. Make the dal:

Wash the dal thoroughly and boil the following ingredients together in a large pot for 45 min or until the dal is perfectly tender, but still holds its shape.

1  1/2 cups split pigeon peas (called arhar or toor dal by N. Indians)

6 cups water

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1 1/2 – 2 tsp salt (or to taste)

1 cup onions coarsely diced

1 1/2 cup tomatoes any kind, diced (I used about 3 small roma tomatoes)

1/2 cup eggplant, diced (dont bother peeling if you eggplant is organic)

1 1/2 cup carrots, peeled and diced (about 2 large carrots).

B. Add the tamarind. Continue to simmer on low while you complete making the sambar.  In a small bowl, add:  2 tsp tamarind concentrate to a few tbs. of the dal liquid and fully dissolve the paste.  Add to the dal and thoroughly mix.

C.  Now temper the dal. Heat 1 1/2 tbs. oil in a small sauceopan till hot, then add the following ingredients:

1 tsp black mustard seeds (rai)

1″ ginger finely minced

2-3 dry cayenne peppers, broken in half (optional)

8-10 curry leaves

1 heaping tsp sambar powder (less if you are averse to spicy stuff)

D.  Finish the sambar. When the ingredients release a strong aroma, add the temper to the dal.  Boil briefly, taste the salt.  Serve either with the accompaniments suggested or eat over rice or as a soup.

Note: The picture of the tamarind tree is from Wikipedia.

Posted in Asian, Breakfast, Brunch, Indian Food, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Chick Peas and Chard

Posted by fourclankitchen on October 4, 2010

Fried chick peas have taken off as a concept in the blogosphere.   I am seeing some recipes out there where a little extra oil is used so that the chick peas are nearly fried and have that satisfying crunch that comes with frying.  I have added chard to the dish and have combined Indian and Irani spices to get a quick weeknight meal.

1 can of chick peas (use the kind that have been cooked in salt- they taste better)

5 leaves of chard, leaves and stems chopped coarsely (substitute with spinach or kale if that is what you have on hand)

3 tbs. oil

½ tsp cumin seeds

¼ tsp turmeric powder

¼ tsp coriander powder (optional)

½-1 tsp sumac powder

lime/lemon juice to taste

Salt to taste

Heat 1 tbs. oil in a thin walled cast iron wok, until hot. Add cumin seeds and chopped pepper to the oil and allow to sputter and turn fragrant. .  Add the chard, then add the turmeric, cumin and coriander powder .  Rapidly stir fry at high heat:  5-7 min till the chard  softens, but is still crunchy (think Chinese stirfry).  Remove the contents of the wok to a large bowl and add the remaining oil to the wok.  Let the oil smoke, then add the chick peas and stir fry at high heat about 5 min.  Return the chard etc to the wok and quickly stir fry for 1-2 min more.  Taste and adjust the salt. Add a squeeze of lemon and the sumac.  Mix and serve with any flatbread (naan, tortilla etc) and maybe a raita (this website has a recipe).

Optional.:  If you have time, you can add ½ onion, ¼ tsp ginger, grated and 2 cloves garlic to this dish before you add the chard. Saute for 5 min, then add chard.  Omit  if you are busy or feeling lazy (what I did).

Posted in Asian, Indian Food, Main Dishes, middle eastern, Side Dishes, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

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