Whole Green lentils (whole green mung dal) with cilantro and mint.
I was a picky eater growing up. The only lentil dish I would eat was maa ki dal – a lighter version of the popular dal makhani. My mom tried her best to make me eat more varieties but I just wouldn’t. She had a tough time cooking for me – rajma chawal, aloo parantha, ande ki bhurji (indian scrambled eggs), bhindi
(okra), dal makhani, cholle bhature made 90% of my Indian food diet. Anything else generally met with a lot of resistance.
So while I have been experimental with my cooking and baking, I have been pretty restrictive with Indian cooking, focusing mainly on stuff that I have grown up eating. The only lentils I generally cook are urad saboot (whole unskinned black lentils that I use in my dal makhani recipe) and toovar dal (yellow pigeon pea). Toovar dal only made an appearance in my diet post marriage since V, being from UP, is a big fan of it.
When my mom was here she used the other lentils that were in my pantry and made different dals for us and both of us really enjoyed. And I realized I should start including them in our diet more.
The other day when I was menu planning, I came across this recipe for whole green lentils with cilantro and mint in Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick and Easy Indian cooking . Although not the most attractive looking dish, it definitely is tasty and a perfect healthy side for your indian meals. You can also make it a little more watery and have it as a lentil soup. I served it with indian flat breads and my favorite achaari paneer recipe.
I have made this vegetable pulao so many times now but somehow have not posted the recipe for it on the blog. Let’s correct that today!
The reason why I turn to this recipe for vegetable pulao is that its so easy to make and even though it can be served as a side, with a little more veggies in the mix it doubles up perfectly as a main. The best part though- this pulao is a one pot meal. So clean up is easy too.
I have barely adapted this recipe from Soma’s blog ecurry.com. Soma suggests not to use veggies like broccoli or cauliflower so that the flavors of the spices are distinct. Since I make this dish for a complete meal I do add some veggies, especially cauliflower. And then serve it raita and pickle. If using the pulao as a side you can leave out the cauliflower.
When my dad was doing his Air Warfare Staff College in US in 1989, there were a lot of social get togethers organized for spouses to interact with each other. One of the get togethers was a potluck to which my mom brought an Indian flavored chicken curry. Coincidentally a lady from Pakistan also brought a chicken curry to the gathering. When my mom recounts this incident she remembers the Pakistani lady’s chicken as being absolutely delicious and thought the lady’s dish to be better than her own. She remembers a lot of people coming to her and complimenting on how flavorful her dish was. My mom believes the people complimenting her thought she was the one who brought the chicken dish which actually the Pakistani lady brought. My mom still thinks that was one of the best chicken curry she ever tasted and since then she has wanted to make something similar.
When she was visiting us in Dallas, she thought of looking for a recipe similar to the one the Pakistani lady had cooked. She found one online, which sounded good and the recipe that I am sharing today is adapted from that. She thinks this was the closest she has come to replicating the flavors of the chicken curry she had almost 24 years back.
The reason I have called this dhaba style chicken curry is that its a no frills recipe and the taste is very similar to what you get in dhabas (roadside eateries) in India. We indians love our dhaba food and this chicken curry is quite similar to the one we get in punjabi dhabas. Using freshly ground whole spices always makes indian dishes more flavorful. Ground spices tend to lose their flavor, so wherever possible do try to just grind as much as you would require for one dish, instead of grinding in bulk and keeping them for weeks.