19 April 2010

Butter chilies . . . I've never heard of them

G again at the keypad . . .

Tonight, and some other nights for inexplicable reasons, I felt the need to make a selection of veg curries for dinner. Unlike making a meat curry, I feel you can't just have one kind so if it's going to be veg, there's gotta be a selection. So it ends up being a bit of a madhouse in the kitchen and not always a roaring success.  The least successful part of this evening was the mushroom/pea/potato curry. I used pre-prepared curry powder and well it just ain't that good and there was not any thickness to the sauce. Sprinkled with some raita it was alright but I think I'm going to give the mushroom curries a pass from now on as I can't seem to get it right.

Second I made some butter paneer. I will admit it was pre-packaged sauce here too (I did make it all in a hour after getting home late!) and it was pretty good. The sauce was Mother's brand in a foil packet if you happen upon it. I bought it at Ambal Trading on Parliament St., where I get most of my south Asian goodies, including the roti/paratha and fresh paneer. There's also a fresh fish market in the back but I've not ever tried anything from there as I'm not so bold on the fish front.

But in my daily chili quest, I had to do something with the latest chili find I made last week at Ambal: butter chilies. Feast your eyes on these white babies.

And so tonight's effort was a red lentil dal that came out pretty terrific in the end. Here's my recipe - and it makes about 4 servings.

1 cup red lentils
3 cups water
3 dried butter chilies, chopped finely
1 small onion chopped finely
1 1/2 tbsp chopped ginger
3 tbsp oil
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp cumin whole
3 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp salt

Put the lentils and water on to boil for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, prepare all the other ingredients.

Add oil to a small frying pan and once hot add the onions and sautee for about 5 or 6 minutes. Add cumin and chilies and fry for a minute or so. Then add the garlic, ginger, garam masala and tumeric and fry for a few more minutes. You should have a nice soft, oily spice mixture.

Once the lentils are soft and cooked, turn off the heat, stir in the onion and spice mixture and add salt to taste.  Let is sit for a few minutes for all the flavours to get jiggy with each other and then serve and enjoy.

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