We hear this all the time: “I love Indian food but I find it so complicated to make it myself.” Or “you use so many different spices, it sounds too complex” or “it takes too long to make an Indian recipe.”These are things that I hear about Indian cooking time and time again. Well, while I’m not denying the use of different varieties of spices used, it’s exactly this mix that makes our cuisine one of the healthiest cuisines in the world that’s so rich in antioxidants.
It is these benefits that have made people in the west rethink the way that they eat and in the last couple of years have adapted Indian spices in their food to make it more healthy and nutritional. Most of the spices used in Indian cuisine have some form of healing property associated to it and the beauty of Indian cuisine is that there’s most certainly a dish for every occasion. I say this because our everyday food is quite different to Butter Chicken, Biriyani or Chicken Tikka (the kind of food the world in general associates us with). And every day Indian food is really quite simple if you know how.
So, what does our everyday food look like and how is it really different? I compare it to the “simple, gorgeous girl next door type who every guy dreams about marrying” – the only oomph that she has is that she’s gorgeous inside out and one just can’t stop admiring her beauty!
Once you remove the frills and fancies that comes with dishes like Butter Chicken or Biriyani, what is left is simple everyday food.
It IS simple to make, nourishing to your body and a well-balanced meal in itself. I can say this confidently because our everyday meals use ingredients like whole wheat, lentils, turmeric, ginger, cumin and coriander to name a few. All one needs do to know more about the medicinal values of the ingredients listed above is to google it and there are pages after pages on how lentil has become the new meat substitute and it being ever so rich in protein for those who decide to go vegan.
Or have you heard how drinking turmeric milk can help with the cold or soothing an upset tummy and much more? The point I am making here is that Indian food is simple and you too can make it without breaking your head over spices. And to illustrate this, you’ll find my recipe here for Dal (also known as lentil soup).
You can either have this as a soup or you can have this with rice, pita or even grilled chicken. What you choose to have it with is totally up to you but I have mine with rice, some pickle and homemade chips on the side. This is comfort food for me!
The recipe here is of a basic Dal (lentil soup), but you can add your favourite veggies to make it more wholesome. This simple Dal is all it takes to benefit from the goodness of the spices used and this is how easy it is to make Indian food part of your diet.
Dal (Lentil Soup) – Serves 4 | Prep and cooking time: 30 – 40 mins
Yellow dal (Toor dal) – 150g
Chilli – 1 finely chopped (add more for spicy)
Ginger – 1 inch cube finely chopped
Garlic – 2 pods finely chopped
Cumin – 1 teaspoon
Onion – 1 large thinly sliced
Tomato – 1 medium finely chopped
Cumin pwd – 1/2 teaspoon
Kashmiri Red Chilli powder – 1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric – 1/4 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Oil – 1 tablespoon
Ghee and Coriander leaves for garnish
Yellow lentil (Toor dal) washed and soaked in hot water for 1/2 hour and cooked in a pressure cooker for about 4-5 whistles (quick version, use canned).
When the dal is soaking, (that is if you’re not using canned) prep the other ingredients.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a deep pan, add in the whole cumin, and when you sense the aroma, add 1 chopped green chilli, 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic and ginger and sauté until light brown.
Next add in the thinly sliced onion and sauté until the onions turn light golden brown.
Now add the chopped tomatoes and veggies (if you’re using vegetables) and cook until the tomatoes are mushy.
Add salt to taste.
Add 1 teaspoon of cumin powder and chilli powder as well as a pinch of turmeric. Sauté for 1-2 mins on medium flame. Now add the cooked dal, and cook for 10-15 minutes. Adjust the consistency by adding water if you find it too thick.
Check for the seasoning and add more salt if need be.
Now drizzle on top with a teaspoon of ghee (optional) and lastly garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
My parents named me Megha Polali, however I go by the name NuttyM, and you can look up @megha.polali on Instagram to see my food portfolio.
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