Making a homemade Indian feast

Sunday is my favorite day to cook because it is the day I have the most time to spend on things. Because of this I typically make something special on Sunday. This Sunday I decided I wanted to make a couple of Indian dishes. This week’s CSA box had mustard greens and spinach and my trip to the Farmer’s Market resulted in me bring how yellow split peas.

So I decided to make a Yellow Dal and Saag Paneer along with fresh roti. I found a simple recipe for Yellow Dal on Epicurious. However, given that I was making two dishes I decided to cut in in half.

Yellow Dal

  • ½ cup yellow split peas, soaked in cold water for 1 hour
  • 1 medium tomato (about 4 ounces), cut into wedges
  • 2 tbs canola oil
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ medium red onion, finely chopped (about ¾ cups)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp ground coriander seeds
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tbs unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp salt

  1. Drain the dal (split peas) and place in a large saucepan. Add the tomato and 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until peas are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Pick out any tomato skins and whisk dal to emulsify it. Keep warm over very low heat.
  3. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the cumin seeds, covering the pan with a lid or splatter screen. After the seeds have stopped sputtering, add the onion and saute over medium heat.
  4. About 3 minutes later, add the garlic and saute until most of the onion has turned dark brown, about 5 minutes altogether. Add the coriander, turmeric and cayenne, stir and pour mixture over the dal. Add butter and salt to the dal and simmer for another 5 minutes.

The Saag Paneer recipe was one which included mustard greens because I had some that needed to be used up.

Saag Paneer

  • 6-8 ounces fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 large bunch mustard greens
  • 1 tsp whole coriander seeds
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp black peppercorns
  • cardamom seeds from 3 green cardamom pods
  • 1 dried red chile
  • 1 medium onion
  • 6 medium-size garlic cloves
  • 2-inches of ginger
  • 2 tbs canola or olive oil
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1½ tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 14-18 ounces paneer cheese
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ tsp garam masala

  1. Wash well the spinach and mustard greens, then drain and dry. Finely chop the spinach and mustard greens.
  2. Make the spice blend by combining the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, cloves, cardamom seeds, and dried red chile in a coffee grinder or spice grinder.
  3. Cut paneer into inch-size cubes. Pan-fry the paneer in a wide skillet with about ¼ cup or less of oil. Rotate the cubes to fry on all sides until the color is honey-brown. This will take about 7-10 minutes. Let them drain on a paper-towel.
  4. Slice the onion. Roughly chop the garlic cloves. Slice the 2-inch piece of ginger into long slices.
  5. Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger, and stir-fry until the onion is light brown, 8-10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat, and stir in the spice mixture, plus the turmeric.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor. Add the tomato paste and ¼ cup of the water. Puree to create a smooth paste. Return the paste to the skillet. Pour the remaining ¾ cup water to the blender or food processor, and whir the blades to wash it out and capture the remaining paste. Add this to the skillet as well.
  7. Place the skillet over medium heat. Add greens into the skillet, cover it, and let the steam wilt them. Stir, and repeat with the remaining greens. Once they are all wilted, cover the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are broken down to a sauce-like consistency and are olive-green in color, 10-15 minutes.
  8. Stir in the salt, garam masala, paneer cubes, and cream. Continue simmering the curry, covered, stirring occasionally, until the cheese and cream are warmed through, 5-8 minutes.

The roti recipe I basically made up myself based on a whole wheat pizza crust recipe. The big difference being how the dough itself was cooked.


  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 tbs Olive oil
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 2 cups Whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup Unbleached white flour
  • 1 pkg Active Dry Yeast

  1. Put all the ingredients in a bread maker in the order listed and set bread maker on “dough” setting. Allow bread machine to do its work.
  2. When bread machine has completed dough, place on a lightly floured surface and dived the dough into 8-12 pieces. Roll each out into a circle.
  3. Heat a griddle or grill pan on high heat and brush very lightly with oil.
  4. Place a circle of dough on the griddle and cook 2 minutes per side.
  5. Repeat until all dough is cooked.

This makes a tremendously tasty feast for two. If you want you can cook some basmati rice to go with the curries but we prefer to just eat them with the bread.

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