Pasta With Lentils

This is one-pot, wholesome and super-easy dish that definitely deserves a flaunting. If you’re done with the monotony of cooking lentils the same old ways – soups, stews, salads, etc. – this will come as a respite. This is me. I get bored easily, cooking the same recipes over and over again. Need, as they say, is the mother of all inventions… this applies in the kitchen too. Thus, this recipe. The deep, rich flavored sauce when tossed with pasta, is a crowd-pleaser, specially the kids. Pasta doesn’t need any cajoling after all 🙂

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:
200 gms brown lentils, washed thoroughly and soaked in water for 15 minutes.
200gms pasta of your choice. I’ve used Macaroni here.
2 medium size onions, finely chopped.
2 medium size tomatoes, pureed. I always go an extra mile by roasting the tomatoes before pureeing them. This I feel, makes the puree more flavorful.
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
2 tbsps chili sauce
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2 heaped tsps Kashmiri chili powder or smoked or regular paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsps corriander powder
3 cloves
3 green cardamoms
1 bay leaf
1 medium cinnamon stick
5-6 cups of water
Oil for frying. I’ve used Olive oil. Any cooking oil will suffice.
Salt as per taste
Chopped corriander
Grated parmesan cheese

Method:
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan and add all the whole spices – cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaf. Fry for few seconds till aromatic.
2. Tumble in the onions and fry till translucent.
3. Add the ginger-garlic paste and saute for a minute till the raw smell goes away.
4. Now add the spice powders – chili, turmeric, corriander and fry on low for a minute.
5. Add the pureed tomatoes and saute on medium till the oil starts leaving from sides.
6. Add the tomato ketchup and chili sauce and stir.
7. Now add the soaked lentils, water and salt. Mix well and simmer on medium for about 25 minutes or until the lentils are tender, lid on.
8. Stir occasionally. Add more water if you feel the sauce is drying out.
9. Toss the pasta into the sauce and cook on medium, lid on. This should take about ten minutes, depending on the type of pasta you use.
Alternatively, you can cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain and then tumble it into the sauce along with some pasta water.
10. While plating, generously grate Parmesan and garnish with chopped corriander.

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Whole Masoor Dal – Pressure Cooked

Whole Masoor or Sabut Masoor are these mighty nutritional members of the legume family, typically dark brown on the outside and salmon-pink on the inside. They cook super fast, even without a pressure cooker and are a powerhouse of proteins, dietary fibre, iron, zinc, vitamins, minerals and are super low on calories. These wholesome food staple are quite versatile when it comes to cooking…soups, salads, stews, lentil bowls or simply a delicious dal that I’ve cooked here.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:
1 cup black masoor or sabut masoor, washed thoroughly. Soak it in water for about 15 minutes.
2 medium size onions, finely chopped
2 medium onions, sliced, for tadka
4 green chilies, slit, for tadka
2 medium size tomatoes, finely chopped (or pureed)
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2 tsps Kashmiri chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsps corriander powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 tsp asafoetida
2 tsp cumin seeds for dal and 1 tsp for tadka
3 cloves
3 green cardamoms
1 black cardamom
1 bay leaf
1 medium cinnamon stick
5 cups of water
Oil for frying
2 tbsp ghee for tadka
Salt as per taste

Method:
1. Heat oil in a pressure cooker and add asafoetida, cumin seeds and fry for a bit.
2. Add all the whole spices – cloves, cinnamon, green and black cardamom and bay leaf. Fry for few seconds till aromatic.
3. Tumble in the onions and fry till translucent and golden brown.
4. Add the ginger-garlic paste and saute for a minute till the raw smell goes away.
5. Now add the spice powders – chili, turmeric, cumin and garam masala and fry on low for one minute.
6. Add the pureed tomatoes and saute on medium till the oil starts leaving from sides.
7. Now add the soaked masoor, water and salt. Stir and pressure cook on medium for about 15 minutes after the first whistle.
8. Open the lid and add more water if you feel the consistency is too thick. Boil for few minutes.
9. In a separate pan, heat ghee and add a tsp of cumin seeds and sliced onions. Fry till the onions are dark brown and crisp. Be careful not to burn.
10. Now add the slit green chilies and fry for few seconds.
11. Lastly, add this tadka to the cooked lentils and mix well.
12. Garnish with chopped coriander. Mix and leave the lid on for about 5 minutes so all the flavours are thoroughly absorbed. Serve hot with steamed rice or parathas

Chicken and Chorizo Traybake

If there was a competition for the easiest lunch recipe, my tray-bake would take away the trophy hands down.
Sight of the chicken sizzling in the tray, soaking itself in the luscious red juices of the chorizo, is something to behold. I keep peeping into the oven all the time. Bad habit, I know. But the aromas that fill the kitchen are so unbelievably hypnotic, you just can’t leave.
This is one rustic dish I love.  No precision slicing or chopping or even the measurements. Just being sloppy throughout. At the end, there’s always a fight for who’ll mop up the leftovers in the tray. I always win. And so should you.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:
500 gms Chicken breasts. You can also use the thighs or the drumsticks
25 beads of chorizo sausages. Remove the casing
2 medium size onions, roughly sliced
2 potatoes with skin, roughly cut into wedges
4 cloves of garlic, left whole
2 tsps lemon juice
Zest of one lemon
1/2 tsp black pepper, crushed or powder
2 tbsps olive oil or any cooking oil
Salt to taste

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
2. Marinate chicken in lemon juice, pepper and salt (you can also skip this step altogether and start off directly with the bake. I’ve tried both ways and it tastes equally good).
2. Put oil in the baking tray. Sit the chicken pieces inside while rubbing them roughly with oil, so they don’t go dry while baking.
3. Make space for the chorizo, potato wedges and onion slices. Toss in the garlic and grate the lemon zest straight over the contents. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper.
4. Cook for 40 minutes or until done.