The cold Winter months bring on cravings for heavier foods like pumpkin, dhals and flatbreads. One of my favourite Winter staples is dhal which is a soup made from yellow split peas or smaller red lentils. Since I have been living in Taiwan, I have started making dhal with whatever local beans and peas I can find like red adzuki beans which is good for the urinary tract, or black soybeans which are high in fibre and polyunsaturated fats, urad dhal which has a fabulous nutty flavour and a teeth-cleaning feeling when you chew (like apples:-)
A lot of people in Taiwan love Indian food but to be honest, the Indian restaurants in Taipei aren’t that great or if they are, their prices are way too high. Teaching an Indian food workshop was a great idea and one that was well-received by everyone.
For the first workshop, we made adzuki (red bean) dhal, paneer sour chutney and and finally we made a bit of an improv dish which was a roti with a thin layer of tamarind chutney, stir-fried sweet potatoes with pan-roasted ginger and a hit of garam marsala (perfume, I tell ya’!) on top of that with a large handful of freshly-chopped cilantro.
All the recipes were a hit. Lots of red wine made its merry way around the room and two journo friends managed to get the footage they needed for their respective shows. The windows steamed up, laughter was loud and bellies were warmed. After the workshop, we slowly made our way to my favourite spice shop so that everyone could buy what they needed to make the rest of their Winter as comforting as possible!
Paneer is made from bringing milk to the boil and separating with fresh lemon juice whilst stirring. (photo by Masha Ostasheva)
While being careful not to burn your fingers, squeeze out the excess water, twist the bag into a knot then place something heavy over it for about an hour. (photo by Masha Ostasheva)
This is what the finished cake of paneer will look like. After this, you are free to improvise with chutneys, curries or sauces. (photo by Masha Ostasheva)
These are adzuki beans. They warm the body. Green beans cool the body so it’s best to eat red beans in Winter. To cook this, soak the beans for 2 hours, boil in clean water with a large hand of ginger and a roughly chopped onion.
Thereafter, add fennel, cumin and coriander seeds. First, dry-roast in a pan, then crush in a spice grinder or by hand… (photo by Delicious Taipei)
Next add some chili powder and if you like, some garam marsala… (photo by Masha Ostasheva)
Heat some oil, then add your spices and salt and cook them, slowly stirring to prevent them from burning. (photo by Masha Ostasheva)
Finally, pour the spice mixture into the pot of cooked dhal (don’t drain the water off the dhal, you want a rich soupy texture). Let the mixture cool, then blend until smooth as in the picture. (photo by Masha Ostasheva)
The sweet potato and dry-roasted ginger is extremely easy to make: after dry-roasting julienned ginger (lots of it), add the cubed sweet potato to your pot or wok, add 1.2 cup water and let it simmer until almost soft. Then add salt and garam marsala. Delish! (photo by Masha Ostasheva)
This is what the finished dish should look like – a layer of tamarind chutney, sweet potatoes and ginger on top, then a handful of cilantro:-) (photo by Delicious Taipei)