We went to a pick-your-own farm in North London last weekend and brought back our bounty of fruit and vegetables. I don't think I've ever eaten strawberries that were so juicy and sweet and oh what pleasure just plucking them off the plant and popping them into your mouth. Yeah yeah I didn't wash it or wipe it or anything, just ate them with all the gusto I could muster on that hot summer day.
The 10 acres of land was filled with fruits and veggies of all sorts- from blackberries, to raspberries to beetroot to courgettes- I had a tough time deciding what I wanted to bring back. Ro who, till now, was of the opinion that strawberries were so over rated, succumbed to the stereotype and decided strawberries and cream were most certainly heavenly. I had major plans of making strawberry this and strawberry that, but at the rate its going I don't think I'll have any left to make my planned desserts, instead we have just been devouring them with whipped cream. Yummville!
I had picked up some swiss chard as well and honestly it was the after effect of an article I wrote recently about growing swiss chard and since then I have been curious. I knew it was part of the spinach family, but hoped it wasn't like the radish greens I recently cooked which was quite bitter. Maybe it was a mistake I did, but I don't think I will be trying that out again.
Initial plan was to make a gratin with the chard, but then slight miscalculations and a whole day spent on a debate with my friends on fb, with bits and pieces of writing thrown in between meant I had very little time to prepare dinner. So I decided to incorporate the chard into a dal preparation. Thanks to the pressure cooker, frozen chapathis and the last stash of chicken cutlets, dinner was ready in no time. The downside however was that I missed out on the lighting bit and hence the dark, shadowy pics. Well, you gain some, you lose some right?
So anyways, I made the dal and it turned out good. The chard tastes very similar to spinach, just that I thought it didn't wilt as much as the spinach and so there was enough greens floating around in my lentil curry. I am hoping to use up the other veggies I picked up asap and as time permits will blog about it too.
(Damn the articles I'm writing, I sound so bloody formal here too) :( :(
Masoor dal- 1/4 cup
Toor dal- 1/4 cup
Mung dal- 1/4 cup
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Swiss chard- about 3 cups chopped and packed (washed properly and the tough stalks removed)
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Onion- 1 medium, thinly sliced
Garlic paste- 1 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder- 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida- a pinch
Fenugreek powder- a pinch
Coriander powder- 1.2 tsp
Lime juice- a dash
Garam amsala- 1/4 tsp
Salt- to taste
Oil- 1 tbsp
Water- about 2 cups
Throw in the dals (washed), turmeric powder, swiss chard and salt along with water into the pressure cooker, give it a good stir and cook on medium heat for about 3 whistles. Release the pressure and keep aside.
Meanwhile, heat oil in frying pan and add the cumin seeds.
Once it sizzles, add the onions and garlic paste and wait for it to cook and wilt a bit.
Add all the powders- chilli, coriander, asafoetida and fenugreek- and saute well. Cook till the raw smell disappears.
Put the pressure cooker with the cooked dal back on medium flame and add the onion mix. Stir well to combine,
Do a taste test and add more salt, spice as per requirement and bring to a boil.
Add a dash of lemon juice and sprinkle some garam masala on top, give a final stir and take it off the flame.
Pour into individual containers and serve as soup or as a side to rice or roti.
Notes: Add chickpeas (garbanzo) to this and it can be converted to a stew on a cold winters night.
Replace chard with spinach and you have palak dal.
You can do the above prep with any dal of choice.
Freeze it once it cools down and trust me it will be a blessing on a day you don't want to cook.