Tag Archives: Indian

Chana Dhal and Courgette Curry


My brother-in-law John is staying with us again this summer and expressed an interest in trying Indian food.

You mean John lived with us all last summer and I DIDN’T COOK INDIAN FOOD? What kind of a sister-in-law am I????

Plagued by the knowledge that if I didn’t rectify this–and fast–my head would explode in flames, I decided to make a vegetarian and meat curry pronto. This is the vegetarian recipe I chose, and it’s so good, you guys. I came home the next day hoping to eat the small amount of leftovers for a late afternoon snack, but lo and behold John had eaten them already.

I was slightly pleased, I can’t lie.

There’s no better proof of love than the disappearance of leftovers before they’ve even been in the fridge for 24 hours.


Anyway, there are no words adequate enough to express my love for this curry.

Though this facial expression comes close to illustrating it.


With no hard-to-find ingredients (you can use yellow split peas as I did, and the lime juice and brown sugar take the place of tamarind juice), there’s no excuse not to make it.

Unless you don’t like Indian food.

In which case . . . well, I just have to believe that you haven’t actually tasted Indian food yet.


Not tasted Indian food?

You poor soul.



Serves 4

2/3 cup chana dhal or yellow split peas, washed
3 cups water
4 TBS vegetable oil
2 green chilies, de-seeded and minced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 inch piece of ginger, minced
8 curry leaves (optional)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp turmeric
3 medium winter squash or zucchini, chopped into quarter moons
2 TBS lime juice
2 TBS brown sugar
2 medium to large tomatoes, chopped
Salt, to taste
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
Cooked rice, to serve

1. In a deep pan, bring the dhal or split peas to a simmer with the 3 cups of water and a generous pinch of salt. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until tender (but not mushy), adding more water as needed and stirring every now and then.

2. In the meantime, heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the onion (and a pinch of salt) and cook for about 15 minutes, until starting to caramelize.

3. Add the chilies, garlic, ginger and curry leaves to the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add the chili powder, turmeric, and another pinch of salt to the onions. Cook for 1 minute, stirring so that the spices don’t burn.

5. By now the chana dhal or split peas should be tender, so add them to the pot with the onions, including any water that wasn’t absorbed.

6. Add the squash or zucchini, lime juice, sugar, tomatoes and cilantro to the pot. Simmer over medium heat until the squash or zucchini is tender, 20-30 minutes.

7.  Taste and season with more salt if needed. Serve over rice!


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Indian-Style Chicken Curry with Chickpeas and Raisins

As I mentioned on Tuesday, this recipe came from my friend Beth, after I tried her leftovers at Bible study one night and demanded that she share immediately how to make it. She had gotten the recipe from her friend Susan, who in turn adapted it from Cook’s Illustrated “The Best Chicken Recipes.” I knew there was a genius behind it the moment I tasted it.

This curry . . . what shall I say about this curry. “Delicious” feels like an understatement when this rich, tomatoe-y sauce with the perfect bursts of golden raisins is concerned.

Please make it.

You know how addicted I am to making new recipes and trying new things, so hopefully this will mean something to you: since October, I’ve made this curry 1) for ourselves, 2) for ourselves, 3) for Heidi and Mike, 4) for our neighbor, and 5) for our friends Julie and Zane. I can’t get enough of it.


(Serves 6)

2 TBS sweet or mild curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
4 TBS vegetable oil
2 onions
1/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste
4 cloves garlic
1 TBS minced or grated ginger
1 serrano chili
1 TBS tomato paste
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 medium)
1 cup raisins (regular and golden, mixed)
1/3 cup heavy cream or coconut milk
2 TBS chopped cilantro

There’s a lot going on in this ingredients picture–but don’t freak out! Stay calm, stay calm–if you lose your focus now, you’re going to miss out on a truly incredible dish.

In a small nonstick skillet over medium heat, toast the curry powder and garam masala for 1 minute, stirring constantly to avoid burning them.

Set the spices aside in a bowl.

Finely dice the onions. Heat the 3 TBS of the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. When hot, add the onions and 1/4 tsp of salt.

Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until caramelized. If the onions seem to be browning too quickly, turn down the heat. If you have time, cook the onions for longer and on lower heat. The more they caramelize, the more sweet depth they’ll give to the curry.

In the meantime, mince the garlic and grate the ginger, and de-seed and mince the chili (removing the seeds and membrane). Or leave the seeds in if heat doesn’t scare you.

Going, going . . .


When the onions are caramelized (about like this:)

add the garlic, ginger, chili, toasted spices, and tomato paste.

Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring, until fragrant, then add the chicken broth . . .

. . . and crushed tomatoes too (not pictured), stirring and scraping up any brown bits.

Quickly rinse the chickpeas from that nasty liquid they have in the can with ’em, and add them along with the chicken and raisins to the pot, submerging the meat.

Bring to a simmer, then cover the pot and turn down the heat to medium low.

Simmer 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is just done (160-165 in the thickest part of the chicken breast). In the meantime, chop up some good ole cilantro:

Move the chicken on to a cutting board, and using a fork and knife (it’s hot!), dice it up.

If it’s still a little raw inside, no biggie–it will finish off in the sauce momentarily.

Return the meat to the pot along with the cream or coconut milk . . .

. . . and heat through (about 2 minutes on medium high). Stir in the minced cilantro:

And we’re down to the final step! Taste, and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Serve over rice or spiced couscous!

I’m racking my brain to try and turn up ways of convincing everyone I know to make this. Why? Because I love you, and I want the best for your taste buds.

Anyway, hopefully the pictures will nudge you in the right direction. I can only hope.

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