Green or Red Dal
Dal is a simple Indian meal that is made with lentils (use either red lentils or green lentils, or make one pot of each to decorate your holiday feast.) This is a healthy protein with basic Indian spices, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and salt. Anyone can make this dish anytime of the year, and it’s often eaten daily in certain regions of India as it’s one of the least expensive ingredients that everyone can afford. Dal is best served over hot steamed rice.
Another staple to Indian dishes, where Americans eat bread rolls or potatoes, the Indians savor their rice and daily bread of chapati. The only ingredients are whole wheat and all-purpose flour or chapati flour, salt, water, and some butter. Families in India hand mix their chapati before a meal; form the dough into flat rounds like tortillas, cook on a hot pan, then roast over an open flame. This is delicious bread that goes well with all main dishes, including the Dal.
Black-eyed Peas in a Spicy Curry Sauce
This is similar to the Dal dish; however you use black-eyed peas, onion, grated ginger, Indian spices, coconut milk, and some cilantro leaves as a garnish. No meat, yet hearty and filling, with protein from the beans. The extra kick is the cayenne power; however the heat will make you come back for more chapati bread!
Spicy Eggplant with Tomatoes
This dish can be made without the spice, but why would you? Using any type of eggplant, onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, and Indian spices – another easy and quick meal to prepare. Low fat and low cal, this is a tasty dish you will return to even when it’s not the holidays.
Cucumber Salad with Crushed Almonds
Although most Indian dishes might use peanuts, this is a variation of a light and tasty salad to start your holiday festivities. Japanese crunchy cucumbers work best, along with hot as you can handle chili peppers, almonds, lemon juice, salt, sugar, and more spice from cayenne power, top it off with mustard seeds and you’ve got a master piece!
You can find recipes similar to these on the web and in basic Indian cookbooks, play with your recipes to master your taste and enjoy!
5 Spices, 50 Dishes by Ruta Kahate, Chronicle Books, San Francisco (2007)