Thursday, July 28, 2011

red lentil dal, besan ka cheela, ginger and mint raita

Finally. The heat broke. 
I could of very well eaten a bowl of popcorn for dinner like I have the past several nights.  My motivation level still isn't very high, so I needed to come up with a plan for some nourishment without having to go to the store.

I always have a jar of red lentils in the cupboard.  Why? Because they are delicious, quick cooking and are inexpensive if you score them at an indian market.  For those in the Albany area, go to You can get legumes, spices, and other goodies dirt cheap.  Plus they have a little cafe in the back that serves up delicious south indian chaat (snacky foods).

I whipped up a quick red lentil dahl. (It took less that a half hour from start to finish)

Do I have a recipe? No.  Like I said, motivation level was low... But, I will tell you why you should eat lentils.
1. Super high in protein. 1 c. gives you 40% of your protein with a only couple hundred calories.
2. High in iron.
3. Lots of fiber.
4. They are tasty.
5. They turn from red to yellow when they are cooked. Magical.

I love homemade naan.  But that can take hours. I had some besan flour (aka chickpea flour) on hand and decided to make some besan ka cheela (a savory pancake that is commonly eaten in Northern India).  Chickpea flour is very high in protein, gluten free and has a sweet nutty taste.
This was my first time making these, so I followed a recipe...

Chickpea Flour and Swiss Chard Crepes with Mint Ginger Raita (Besan Ka Chilla or Cheela)

recipe courtesy of veggie belly

serves about 2

4 large leaves of swiss chard (1 1/2 cups when shredded)
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin or carom (ajwain) seeds
1 cup chickpea flour (also called garbanzo flour or gram flour or besan)
1 1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ginger paste
1/2 teaspoon garlic paste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/8 teaspoon asafoetida
1/8 teaspoon baking powder, optional
1 green or red chilli finely chopped
Oil for cooking crepes
Remove and discard the stems from swiss chard leaves.  Stack the swiss chard leaves and roll them tightly. Chop the roll into fine shreds. You should have about 1 1/2 cups of shredded swiss chard.
Heat oil in a small non-stick pan, add cumin or carom seeds. When they start to sizzle, add shredded swiss card and 1/2 teaspoon water and toss on medium heat till the swiss chard has wilted to half its original volume. This will take about a minute. You should now have about 3/4 cups of wilted chard.
In a mixing bowl, add the wilted swiss chard, and all other remaining ingredients except oil. Whisk till everything is combined. The batter should be slightly thinner than pancake batter and should be easily pourable. If the batter is too thick, add more water.
Heat a non-stick pan. Pour a ladle of batter on the hot pan. Using the ladle or back of a spoon, spread the batter around to form a thin crepe. Drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon oil over the crepe. Cook on medium heat for about 1 minutes or till the bottom side is golden and sides start to crisp. Using a spatula, flip the crepe over and cook the other side till golden. Serve hot.

I served them with the mint ginger raita she had her site as well..

Ginger Mint Raita
makes 1 cup

1 cup yogurt (I recommend Greek yogurt)
1/2 tablespoon minced ginger
2 tablespoons mint leaves loosely packed
Chaat masala to taste or salt
Place all ingredients in a food processor. Blend till smooth. Serve chilled

These crepes are highly adaptable.. You could throw in whatever vegetables you have on hand or keep 'em simple.  Instead of the raita, you could serve them with a nice chutney. Next time I might stuff it with potatoes and greens.. omelette style.

Highly versatile.  I like it.

Protein packed. Filling. Cheap. Delicious.

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