|Lentil (dhal) curry, sauted okra, with beef curry and rice|
Last week, I cooked a lentil curry and okra. I don't have a recipe with specific amounts, as such, but here's how I prepared these two dishes.
Lentil (dhal) curry: there are several different ways to prepare a lentil curry and many different varieties of lentils, but this is my preferred way.
|Lentil Curry Ingredients|
Red lentils, curry powder, turmeric powder, diced onions, a sprig of fresh curry leaves, a lemon. Missing from my picture are green chilies (I was actually out of green chilies and substituted dried red chilies, instead), garlic, ginger, and cinnamon sticks. I am not accustomed to setting out and assembling all my ingredients before I cook - I generally start cooking and then, add my ingredients as I go. Sometimes, I will add mustard seeds; I chose not to, this time.
Step 1 is to wash the lentils in several changes of water (at least 4) until the water is clear and not cloudy. For this particular dish, which made enough for at least a couple of servings, I used about 1/2 cup of lentils. I chose red lentils which do not need to be soaked first, before cooking. I put the washed lentils in a pot and added enough water to cover the lentils with about 1/2 inch of water (I rest the very tip of my middle finger on the top of the lentils and the water should come up to the line of the first finger joint):
|Washed red lentils covered with water|
Add a little salt and bring to a boil. While it is coming to a boil, I add the other ingredients - the chopped onions, the curry leaves stripped off the stem, a half-teaspoon of turmeric, a teaspoon of curry powder, etc.:
|Coming to a boil after the ingredients have been added|
It was around this time that I realized that I didn't have any green chilies in the freezer and substituted two dried red chilies; leave the chilies whole if you don't want the dish to be too spicy, cut them up if you want more heat:
|With the dried red chilies added|
I stirred everything and boiled the lentils until they were soft and cooked. Add more water, if needed. Once the lentils are soft, it is time to add some milk. I added about half a can of coconut milk. If you don't have coconut milk, regular milk can be added. I have not tried using other types of milk, such as soy milk, almond milk, etc., but I suppose they may be used as well.
|After the coconut milk was added|
After the milk is added, add some lemon juice. In Sri Lanka, we would normally use lime juice. I have 3 lemon trees in my garden and plenty of lemons, so I use lemon juice, rather than buy limes. Continue to cook a bit longer, until the coconut milk is heated through and the lentil curry has a consistency you like. Some people like it a thinner, more sauce like consistency. I tend to prefer it a thicker consistency. It will also thicken a bit more as it cools:
|The completed dhal curry|
Lentil curry used to be served almost daily, when I was growing up, as one of my half-brothers used to refuse to eat if there was no lentil curry. It is served with bread or rice noodles for breakfast, with rice for lunch, with rice, or rice noodles, or bread for dinner. Lentils and rice, like peanut butter and bread, is considered a complete protein. Very often, spinach is added to the lentils and, sometimes, tomatoes.
Sauted Okra: Okra is known as "ladies' fingers" in Sri Lanka. Again, there are different ways of preparing okra curries, but this is the way my mother used to cook it and my preferred way, because the final product is not very slimy. This method of cooking is known as "thel dala" in Sinhalese (my native language), which translates as "put in oil". I will refer to it as sauted, because, essentially, it is the same thing.
|Sauted Okra Ingredients|
Okra, dark roasted curry powder, diced onions, and the item I left out of the picture: Maldive fish chips. I prefer what is known as dark roasted curry powder when I make sauted dishes, but one can use regular curry powder, as well. Or, dry roast a couple of spoons of regular curry powder in a saute pan without any oil until a bit darker in color to make your own dark roasted curry powder.
Step 1: Wash the whole okra, pat them dry, and slice diagonally. According to my mother, leaving water on the okra makes them slimier.
Step 2: Heat a table spoon or so of oil (I use canola oil for the most part, but you can use whatever oil you prefer), in a saute pan, add the sliced okra and onions, a couple of heaping teaspoons of curry powder and a teaspoon of Maldive fish chips (can be omitted; it is used in our cooking as a flavoring condiment), season with salt, and, I confess I added a bit of chili powder, as well:
|All the ingredients in the saute pan|
|The cooked okra|
This is about the only way I will eat okra and I have only made it with fresh okra. I don't know how frozen okra will be.
Do you think you might try making lentils and okra this way?