Thanks, Dal

Tonight’s menu was a spinoff on what is usually a side dish in Indian cuisine -dal. I found the recipe on Eating Well because I have been wanting to expand my horizons. I have Italian food mostly down, since I grew up with it, and making sauce is like pumping blood for me.

American foods are easy, too, for the most part. Stir fry is frozen vegetables, ginger, and soy sauce with some rice on the side.

And I wanted something that wasn’t just time-consuming, like risotto. I wanted something different and flavorful, and I’ve been on a bit of an Indian food kick lately after going to the Saffron Grill nearby.

So I found this recipe for Roast Chicken Dal on Eating Well, and it amps up the ingredients to make this a main course.

Ingredients: Roast chicken, lentils, fire roasted tomatoes, canola oil, plain yogurt, curry powder.

I roasted the chicken last night –just popped it in the over for an hour at 350. I also cooked the lentils last night. I refrigerated both, and I still had some frozen chopped onion from when I had a huge Mayan onion and only needed a handful of the stuff.

Once home from work, I asked E to cut up the chicken thighs into strips; I nuked the onions to thaw them, and I started the art! Canola oil heated, I dumped in the onions.

Mistake 1: I nuked the onions too long. I like to let them simmer in oil for a while because I think it brings out the flavor, but they were pretty much cooked by the time they hit the pan.

Once the onions were soft (which they pretty much already were, but I gave them a minute or so), added the curry powder.

Mistake 2: Not wanting to overdo the spices and wreak havoc on my digestive system, I used only a teaspoon and a half of the curry powder, instead of the two teaspoons. I should have used two because the final product was not as aromatic and full-bodied as it could have been.

With the powder well mixed with the onion and canola oil, I dumped in the rest of the ingredient, minus the yogurt (tomatoes, lentils, and chicken). I let those simmer in the tomato juices and curry oil for about 15 or 20 minutes, then took it off the burner and stirred in the yogurt.

The end result was tasty, but there was no kick.

One thing I have noticed about Indian spices is that they have what I call a “flat” spiciness to them, whereas a Mexican dish has a sharp and biting flavor. I think that “flat” effect, when done well, is also what adds the full-bodied flavor of Indian food, even when it is not spicy.

Since I opted not to use a lot of curry powder, there were only hints of that flavor, and it lacked in some of the kick I was looking for. But it was filling, and it had some great protein in it.

Next time, I will add more curry, and I think I will use a fresh onion, not thawed.

The finished product

The Dal, with the yogurt mixed in, and ready to serve