Gluten Free Vegetarian Indian Recipes: Dal Vada/Dal Pakora and Cilantro Chutney Recipe

July 1st, 2008 yum Posted in Indian, Protein, South India, Vegan, dal, snack 15 Comments »

When I went to India for two weeks during Winter break, I was thrilled to be invited into the home of a family in Bangalore twice for elaborate and delicious home cooked meals. Every dish was delicious, but my and my husband’s absolute favorite dish was dal vada, or a dal pakora made out of ground channa dal. It was a naturally gluten free dish that fulfilled every fried-food fantasy I’d had since I arrived in India, where most fried foods were off limits. DH and I gobbled up way more than our fair share of this delightful appetizer, and I absolutely had to ask for the recipe. When we got back home, I immediately bought channa dal at my favorite local Indian grocer. And then- life intruded. There was absolutely no time to make elaborate dal fried dishes, so I had to leave the recipe in my recipe file. Luckily a few weeks ago the CeliacSF Bay Area support group held a potluck at a member’s home with an Indian food theme. PERFECT! I thought- time to pull out all my favorite authentic Indian recipes, including this one for dal pakora. To my intense joy, the recipe came off without a hitch- and everyone at our potluck seemed to enjoy this authentic Indian recipe. And, the nicest compliment of all- one new member had brought her mother, visiting from India, who said that while she had her own similar recipe, she really liked mine too. I was thrilled with that generous stamp of approval, and slightly startled when I came back for seconds and found only three lonely little pakora left out of a huge batch. Apparently I’m not the only GF folk to enjoy the occasional GF fried treat!

Here’s a pictorial guide to making Dal Vada:

First soak chana dal overnight. Then drain, rinse, and grind it in a food processor with garlic and ginger until it’s a nice, smooth dough.

Then mix in all the other ingredients, including cilantro and red onion. Form into little balls, flatten, and deep fry until cooked all the way through and deep golden brown.

And, here’s a video for a similar recipe using combined dal:

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And, if you want another video, here’s a great video showing in great detail how to make authentic dal vada

By the way, channa dal is a dal that I really enjoy. It’s a yellow lentil similar to yellow split pea, but a little larger. It almost looks like a dried corn kernel. It’s fantastically low on the glycemic index, and tasty too. You can do lots of things with channa dal. If you’ve got channa dal left in your pantry after making this yummy recipe, try one of these recipes:

Channa dal with Spinach Recipe
Sukhi Channa Dal Recipe
Another Channa Dal Recipe
Spicy Channa Dal Recipe

You can also try my Mint Cilantro Chutney Recipe
with this dal pakora recipe
if you have some mint on hand. Enjoy!
And, here’s my post describing the dinner party in Bangalore where I first enjoyed this recipe.

*IMPORTANT REMINDER: The Adopt-a-gluten-free blogger deadline is July 7th. Please send me the URL of your post about your adopted blogger, photo, and description of the recipe NO LATER than this date, as I will be flying to Japan on the morning of July 9th. If you don’t get your entry in by this date, you may not be included in the roundup until (retroactively) in early August… You can email me at seamaiden399(at)gmail[dot]com. Thanks guys and can’t wait to see your posts!

Chana Dal Pakora or Dal Vada Recipe- revised
250 gm (8.8 oz) Bengal Gram (Channa/ Chana Dal)
1 1/2 medium red onions, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
2-3 finely chopped green serrano chili
2-3 cloves (Loung?)
1 stick (1 inch) cinnamon bark (dalchini)
salt to taste

Cooking Oil for deep frying
50 gm.(1.75 oz( Ginger (finely crushed but Not paste)
1/2 or 1/4 head of garlic (finely crushed)

Chutney to serve- mint or cilantro chutney is lovely. Mint AND cilantro chutney is also nice. A red tomato chutney or even ketchup offers a nice contrast.

Soak 250 gm. (washed) Bengal gram for 5-6 hours. Strain the water and grind the strained dal along with crushed garlic, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon bark. It’s hard for the food processor to break up the cinnamon bark, so make sure to start with it. You may have to break up pieces by hand. Put the ground mixture in a bowl and mix finely chopped onions, fresh cilantro leaves, salt, and green chilies. Mix it well with spoon or by hand. Make round, flat patty shaped balls and deep fry on medium flame in oil heated on medium heat. If the oil is smoking, it’s too hot! I find that it is very easy to burn the first few while trying to get the temperature right, but you’re shooting for a cooking period of about 2.5 minutes, then turn for 2.5 minutes more. If you fry them too fast, the inside will be raw, so you really want that type of extended frying period.

*Tip: Before you start frying, set up a cooling area with an (edged) cookie pan and a cooling rack. You can line the cookie pan with paper towels if you like, but place the fritters on the rack when they’re done. Then the oil can drip down but the fritter won’t get soggy like it would on a paper towel.

This is a South Indian recipe that our friends (originally from Northern India) had been introduced to by their sons caretaker. They liked it so much they adopted the recipe- and after weeks in India drooling over all the gluten containing fried snacks I couldnt have, it was a thrill for me to enjoy this in their home. I begged them to make it again when we visited their house a second time- and it was just as wonderful as I remember! Probably my favorite thing I ate over the entire duration of our trip. :)

I finally made this recipe in my own kitchen on the first day of summer because my local Celiac support group was having a potluck with an “indian foods” theme. I wanted to bring all my favorite recipes that I discovered while visiting India, so I made this recipe, as well as homemade rasgulla and aloo jeera. It was all sooo yummy! And everyone gobbled up the Dal Vada, because as DH put it- of course everybody wanted gluten-free fried goodness. :)

Cilantro Chutney Recipe
1 1/2 chopped, de-seeded serrano chili
3 tbsp lemon or lime juice
3/4 inch ginger
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp. oil
dash of asafoetida/hing (use one made from Rice Flour, like Whole Foods)
1 very large bunch chopped cilantro or 2 medium bunches
1 tbsp sugar (or less, taste and adjust to your preference)
Combine everything in a food processor except for the cilantro and sugar. Add the cilantro a bunch at a time and combine. Add 1 1/2 tsp sugar, taste, and add more if you like. You can also add more salt or lemon juice if you prefer.
These are perfect frozen in ice cube trays and defrosted as needed. It’s best to freeze them as soon as possible after making the sauce to preserve color and flavor.

Manjula suggests combining 1 part chutney to 3 parts yogurt for a dip, 1 part chutney and 2 parts cream cheese for a sandwich spread (Me: how about with cucumber slices? Yum!), or even as a component of a vinaigrette.

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Gourmet Breakfast: Gluten Free Vegetarian Eggs Benedict Recipe

June 12th, 2008 yum Posted in American Homestyle Cooking, Bette Hagman, Eggs, Mushrooms, One Dish Meal, Protein, Sauce, Soy Free, Vegetarian, breakfast 4 Comments »

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. I don’t know if this is one of those pictures, but let me assure you- the gluten-free vegetarian eggs benedict that we plated up for dinner the other night was definitely worthy of excess, whether it be in word or photographic tribute. I’ve only had eggs benedict twice in my lifetime, but I have to say, it’s one of my favorite ways to enjoy this week’s theme ingredient- the egg. What’s not to like about a freshly toasted crumpet (in this case a la Bette Hagman) topped with a perfectly poached egg and buttery rich hollandaise sauce? I couldn’t tell you. Except, perhaps the length of time involved in the project.

First you have to make crumpets from scratch, of course, because you’re a perfectionist and there just aren’t any pre-made ones that are any good. (If there are, please let me know!) Then you have to make the butter sauce- a delicate matter because it involves eggs, and eggs over a double boiler like nothing more than scrambling into unusable goo right before your panicked eyes. So, let’s say you wreck the first sauce. And then holler for DH, who somehow has a more delicate touch with a double boiler than you do. He makes the second sauce- perfectly, of course. The big show off. But then you redeem yourself by poaching the egg into a beautiful, neat little egg package while DH’s egg gets all gloopy and globby. Not that this is a competition, mind. But wait- this isn’t the ultimate eggs benedict. Don’t restaurant versions often have slices of salted meat bits? Of course, we don’t do that nasty meat stuff- but how about caramelized portobello mushroom slices, slowly sauteed in a cast iron pan with plenty of olive oil, salt, and pepper… Yes! And thus, a new vegetarian and gluten-free version of an eggs benedict recipe was born. DH was in breakfasty delight heaven, only slightly confused by the fact that it was seven o’clock at night when we enjoyed this particular meal. So if you can’t remember the last time you enjoyed eggs benedict, why not try making your own sometime soon, at any time of day. Your taste buds and loved ones will thank you for it.

But what is Eggs Benedict, and where did it come from? It seems to largely be celebrated in America, and according to some (rather dubious sources) the recipe appeared in American cookbooks as early as 1898. However, it also seems strikingly similar to a French provincial recipe called œufs bénédictine, so may ultimately have its origins in France. (source: Wikipedia)

Added to this Gluten-free Breakfast Carnival

Gluten Free Vegetarian Savory Eggs Benedict Recipe with Mushroom slices
1 or 2 homemade or store bought GF crumpets (I like Bette Hagman’s recipes- any version but especially those with bean flour)

2 portobella mushrooms, cleaned and stem removed
Olive oil, salt, pepper to taste

2 eggs

Hollandaise Sauce (Recipe in files)
Julienned fresh basil (optional)

Prepare crumpets. When cool, slice in half and toast right before you assemble the eggs benedict.

Prepare salted mushrooms strips. Slice fresh mushroom into thin strips. Heat a cast iron pan and add a little olive oil (no more than a tablespoon). Add your mushroom strips so they form a single layer in the pan. You will need to do multiple batches unless you have a giant skillet. Season generously with salt and pepper. NOW DON’T TOUCH THEM. Let them stay on the surface until they’re golden brown on one side. Then turn. They should be well done and well seasoned for ultimate flavor.

You’ve already made the hollandaise sauce, right? Good. If not, make it now.

Poach your Eggs: Fill a medium or large saucepan with 3 inches of water. Bring the water to simmer, then add some vinegar. Crack open your eggs gently and carefully drop into the water. I like to take a large spoon and gather some of the white tendrils around the egg. Let cook for a few minutes, leaving the yolks soft in the center. Use a large slotted spoon (not huge, one size larger than your regular eating spoon) to pull out each individual egg and place it gently on a plate.

Assemble your eggs benedict. Toast the crumpet halves. You can butter them if you like, but I didn’t. Place a layer of portobella mushroom strips on the crumpet, then garnish with some fresh basil or other fresh herbs (chives would be good). Place your poached egg on top and then drizzle the whole thing with warm hollandaise sauce. Prepare to enjoy decadence on a plate. Yum!

*I know the picture has tomato slices. These photos were taken the next day when I made myself one for breakfast, and I added the tomato for fun. I decided I preferred it without, so didn’t include the tomato in the recipe. Also, what with all the photos I took the sauce cooled a little bit- originally it was more runny. Tasted yummy either way though!*
Gluten-Free Hollandaise Sauce Recipe
2 tbsp vinegar of your choice- apple cider, white wine, etc.
1 tbsp water
6 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup unsalted butter (I know, I know, what can you do)
2 cage-free, free-range egg yolks
freshly ground black pepper
dill seasoning
Simmer your vinegar, water, peppercorns, and bay leaf on the stove in a small pan until it reduces by half. Pour through a tea strainer into a small bowl and let cool to room temperature.

Cream your room temperature or slightly cool butter with a mixer until soft and fluffy. Put bowl near stove with small spoon ready with a ball of butter. (You need it nearby! trust me!)

Prepare a GOOD double boiler with simmering water. Make sure you don’t get any water in your heatproof metal bowl that you put over the simmering water. Gently whisk together egg yolks and your cool vinegar mixture until light and fluffy. Do NOT let scramble. Drop in your first ball of butter and whisk in, then add another ball of butter, continuing until all the butter has been mixed in. Never stop whisking or you’ll be sorry! (Trust me on this one! I was!) Take off burner and season with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and dried dill. Taste. You can whisk in a little milk if you want a thinner sauce, or add more butter if the vinegar is too strong for your taste. (Unlikely, IMO- that’s a lot of butter!)

This sauce can be kept for up to a week. You can apparently reheat this sauce over a double boiler, but be gentle.

Makes enough for 4 non-greedy Egg Benedict servings.

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