Vaatali daal or Split chickpea hummus

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Michigan is going through its classic undecided weather spell. After a chilly overcast week, we were rewarded with warm sunny weekend. It reminded me of spring back home in India, albeit temperatures there would be soaring 10 to 20 degrees higher than this part of the world. I guess its the blooming trees that mark the advent of spring in my mind, irrespective of where I am. So to celebrate it, I decided to prepare  a Marathi favorite- ‘vaatali daal’ i.e. a salad of split chickpeas. A typical snack of the spring, it makes an opportune use of seasonal raw green mangoes. While, its texture is like hummus, its tangy spicy flavors are likely to remind you of salsa.

Vaatali daal is often made during the ‘Haladi-Kunku’ occasions in Chaitra, the first month of traditional Marathi calendar. Haladi-Kunku is a social gathering, where you invite your women friends and neighbors, and treat them with snacks and some little pretty gifts. I guess, it was an old way to give women much-needed respite from their limited domestic routines. While not so common nowadays, the custom still continues because… well, it is hard to say no to an evening of food and gossip. Maybe that’s why I felt like sharing this recipe. After all, culinary blogosphere is much like an ongoing virtual haladi-kunku, that surpasses the boundaries of culture and gender to unite food lovers across the globe.

So here it is…

VAATALI DAAL OR SPLIT CHICKPEA HUMMUS

Yields about a full big bowl

Ingredients:

1 cup of dried split chickpea/ chana daal
2 small green mangoes (if you cannot find these, substitute it with lemon juice)
1-2 garlic cloves
2-3 green chili peppers (based on the pungency of peppers you are using)
Salt to taste
A pinch of two of unrefined sugar (optional, but it complements the dominant tang of mangoes and hotness of green peppers)
Water to grind
3 tablespoons of oil
1 dried red chili
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
5-6 curry leaves (optional)
2-3 pinches of turmeric powder

Method:

  1. Wash and soak split chickpeas/ chana daal in water overnight (or at least 3-4 hours).
  2. Thoroughly rinse the soaked daal, drain, and grind it (with some water) to form a rough and coarse paste.  Keep it aside in a bowl.
  3. Peel outer thick, dark green skin of raw mangoes. Remove the pit. Chop the light green-white flesh into small bits.
  4. In grinder, make a chutney of mango bits along with green chili peppers, garlic, salt, and sugar.
  5. Add the chutney to daal and mix properly.
  6. Adjust the spice and salt/ sugar per your taste.
  7. In a separate saucepan, heat oil and temper mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, and dried red chili in it, till fragrant.
  8. Take it off the heat, and pour over daal. Mix.

It is ready to be eaten. If you want to use it later, cover and refrigerate. It will keep refrigerated till 2-3 days. As you can see in the photographs, I used it as a side for my lunch of tomato curry-rice and dinner of stir-fried mustard greens and flatbread. It can be easily served as a dip for your pita or tortilla chips. The traditional way serves it as a salad, along with a refreshing drink of green mango. Try it and you might love to have it as it is, without any accompaniment!

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Guacamole Black Bean Pasta

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Am I a fussy eater? Goodness, I can almost see my entire family here, nodding in affirmation of said doubt… But no, today is not the day when I agree to that. Although, black bean spaghetti has made me wonder about it. Unlike buckwheat or rice noodles, I did not warm up to black bean noodles immediately. First few of my stir-fry attempts with it always seemed to miss something. As a result, its box soon slipped into an overlooked corner of my pantry.

The other day however, after a long overseas call, I realized that I had only about 20 minutes to fix a lunch. As fate would have it, I was out of my usual favorite flat noodles. So, I decided to try black bean noodles once again. For a moment, I froze… but then found two perfectly ripened avocados in my fridge. I thought to go for a noddle salad using those. If black bean and avocados wouldn’t go together, the world would just make a little less sense. This ought to work…

It did. So much so, that by the time it occurred to me to take a snap for this blog post, I was almost halfway through my bowl. Here is what I now fondly call as Guacamole Black Bean Pasta.

GUACAMOLE BLACK BEAN PASTA

Serves two

Ingredients:

2 portions of black bean spaghetti (about 4 cups)
2 ripe avocados
1 small onion, or better, 3-4 sprigs of spring onion
1 medium tomato
Lemon juice and salt to taste
3 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 green chili peppers

Method:

  1. Cook black bean noodles per instruction. Drain and keep aside.
  2. In a saucepan, heat olive oil and fry thinly chopped garlic and green chili peppers in it till fragrant. Remove from heat. Pour over cooked noodles and mix.
  3. In a bowl, mash avocado flesh to pulp. Add chopped tomato and onion. Season with salt and lemon juice.
  4. Mix this guacamole with tempered noodles.
  5. That’s it. Serve and Tuck in.

You can also mash raw garlic and chillis with guacamole, if you like. But I just thought that using a tempering to season black bean noodles would add that perk 🙂

 

German Potato Salad / Kartoffelsalat

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I always remember my stay in Berlin, Germany (on a student exchange program) with fondness. It was an enriching experience on many accounts- work, travel, knowing self, art, freedom, and of course- food. Berlin is a curious, student-friendly city that hosts several food traditions from the European continent, Middle-East, and Asia. Among this melting pot, the German-Austrian cuisine shines too. Among these are, not only the sweet streusels and torte, and meaty brat, curry wursts, and schnitzels; but also the more humble bean and potato salads. Today, I was suddenly gripped with some nostalgia about it, and decided to have the Kartoffelsalat for lunch, a vegan version of course.

VEGAN GERMAN POTATO SALAD / KARTOFFELSALAT

Serves two

Ingredients:

6 small or 3 big potatoes
1 onion
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
2 teaspoons dried parsley
4-6 tbspoons brine from pickled vegetables (can be substituted with balsamic or white vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard (or bit more if you prefer so)
3/4 cup vegetable stock
Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Boil potatoes till done (but not mushy).
  2. Peel and cut potatoes in half slices or big chunks.
  3. Chop onion.
  4. In a bowl mix together potatoes, chopped onion, Dijon mustard, red chilli flakes, parsley, brine/ vinegar.
  5. Boil vegetable stock and pour it over the potato salad. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Season with salt to taste.
  7. Can be served as it is, but resting it for 30-45 minutes would help potatoes to imbibe all those flavors better.

Obviously, this salad would go well with grilled wurst or schnitzel but this being a work day lunch, I served it with leftover of stir-fried cabbage & lentil side and pickled vegetables. Oh, and there’s a glass of homemade kombucha! 🙂