August 20, 2014

Channa dhal curry and grilled patty pan squash

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No surprise here, another pressure cooker lentil recipe. This time, channa dhal is used (channa is yellow split pea). Channa dhal is highly nutritious. What is channa? Basically, a young version of a garbanzo or chickpea. It's packed with fiber, protein, and carbs; it has a healthy dose of iron and calcium, and it, like many other dried beans, is a great source of folate, biotin, and choline. 1 The tomatoes in the dish make the iron more bioavailable. Since tomatoes contain Vitamin C they enhance iron absorption. 1 This dish is just good. It can be used as a base for other beans or lentils, or you can sub in tofu, or chicken, or potatoes. Whatever floats your boat. I served mine with some grilled summer patty pan squash, basmati rice, yogurt, and some sambal olek.

This summer, I've been playing ultimate almost three times a week. Holy smokes, Seattle has an amazeballs ultimate scene. To get to the fields, I started riding my bike. I've been putting over 30 miles on my commuter hybrid a week (I have a 2008 Trek). To get home, I ride up a fairly long incline, and have decided to upgrade to a road bike. So if there are any foodie readers that are also bike riders, what should I be looking for?

I'm not into racing as a sport. I primarily ride on asphalt (did I really just type asphalt?), and I use my bike for most errands within a short distance. The things I like about my current bike set up: it's a workhorse, it has a rack with bike saddle bags that I use all the time. When I lived in AL, and commuted to work, I added fenders. I'd like to keep those elements. What I don't like: my bike is heavy, and slow, and I have a love/hate relationship when riding up hills. I view the uphill climb as a cardio workout, but I would like some efficiency.

On the weekends, when the weather is good, I like going for long bike rides. I've ridden up to Kenmore and Woodinville on my hybrid. The hubs has a road bike so I slow us down a lot. So far, I've been doing some online research, visiting and riding bikes at bike shops, and keeping a spreadsheet of different models, price ranges, and specs. A few weekends ago, I tried out two bikes from the same make (Raleigh Ravenio/Capri 2.0 and 3.0). The difference between my bike and the road bike was astounding. The road bikes were zippy and responsive. I would not use those two terms on my current hybrid. My hybrid is a great bike for occasional rides, that will occur on largely flat surfaces. I love that it got me used to the idea of using a bike for getting around town. Sadly, I think I have outgrown it.

Channa dhal curry with grilled patty pan squash
Yield: 4 generous servings, 1 squash per person

Ingredients
1 cup channa dhal
2 cups water
1 cup rice, such as Basmati or Jasmine rice
2 and 1/4 cups water for the rice
1-2 tbsp oil
1/2 cup onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp finely minced or grated ginger
1 jalapeño, diced (optional)
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 to 1 cup water, keep on the side.

Dry Spices*
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika or red chili powder (use paprika if you want it less spicy)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
lots of cracks of fresh black pepper
*if you don't have all these spices, a commercial curry mix can be subbed in easily instead. Just use 1-2 tbsp, and remember the more you use, the spicier it will be.

Garnishing spices/seasoning*
1 tsp salt (if using a commercially prepared mix, check to see if it has salt)
1 tbsp ground, coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
*if you don't have all of these, I would solely recommend salt and the cilantro.

Directions for the Channa dhal curry 
Step 1. Soak the channa dhal in the 2 cups of water, and set aside while prepping the rest of the ingredients.

Step 2. Prepare the rice. I use a rice cooker with the following amounts: 1 cup long grain white rice to 2 and 1/4 cups water. Turn the rice cooker on and forget it. Come back later, voilá: rice!

Step 3. Measure out the dry spices in a small bowl and set aside.

Step 4. In the small pressure fry pan pressure cooker (PC), heat up 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add in onions and stir. Cook 2 minutes.

Step 5. Add in garlic, ginger, and jalapeños. Stir and let cook 1 minute. Add the dry spices and cook until the mixture becomes very dry. Then, add the tomatoes, and stir it together. The tomatoes will release water and everything will come together as the tomatoes cook. Let cook 4 minutes.

Step 6. Rinse the channa dhal, and add it to the PC. Stir in 1 to 1/2 cups of water and close the cooker. The liquid amount should not exceed the 1/2 mark on the PC.

Step 7. Turn the heat to high and bring the PC to low pressure (first red ring), and cook 14 minutes at low pressure. Once pressure is reached, turn the heat to the lowest setting to maintain low pressure (usually low heat). If using a glass range, move the PC off the heat for a minute or so. At the same time, turn the heat to the lowest setting, and then add the PC back on. When the time is up, turn the heat off and move the PC off the burner. Use the natural release method. This just means moving the PC off the burner and letting the pressure release naturally. It should take ~10 minutes. Use this time to prepare the garnishing.

Step 8. Once the PC is ready, remove the lid, and add the garnishing spices and seasoning. Taste for salt, and add a little more if needed. Serve over rice, and pass yogurt at the table. Top with the grilled patty pan squash (recipe follows below).

Grilled patty pan squash
Yield: 4 servings, 1 squash each

Ingredients:
4 patty pan squash, cut in half (you could also use compact summer or zucchini squash cut in halves)
1 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste (I am loving this flaked sea salt at the moment)
fresh black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika

Directions for patty pan squash
Step 1. Heat the grill to medium high heat if using a gas grill.

Step 2. In a large bowl, add halved patty pan squash and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top and toss the patty pan squash until the sides are evenly coated. Add the paprika and repeat.

Step 3. When the grill is hot, place the squash, cut side down on the grill and cook about 5-7 minutes per side. Use tongs to flip them over. Thicker (bigger) squash will require more heat. I like them slightly undercooked because they stay crunchier.

1. Brown J. Nutrition Through the Life Cycle. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning; 2014.

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