Showing posts with label yellow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label yellow. Show all posts

Jan 16, 2017

Not so Mellow Yellow...



And so the Great Remodel began. After the trim on outside of the house was painted we started with painting the kitchen. Now we've lived in this house for about 10 years and have never painted. Actually the house needed painting inside and out when we moved in but we were busy and such and so forth. Above you see one of the painters tinting plaster to patch the hairline cracks in our kitchen from the April and May 2015 earthquakes.


This is the biggest crack in the decorative archway that joins the kitchen and dining area after being patched. Yes, it is most definitely YELLOW. That shade I chose is aptly called "Dizzy Daffodil." As you can see the kitchen and dining area were a pastel mint green. I hate pastels. That shade of green reminds me of the county hospital where I grew up that hadn't been repainted nor remodeled since 1952. I've always wanted a yellow kitchen and I certainly have one now!


Here's the decorative archway after being patched and painted. Dizzy daffodils indeed! You can see one of the large windows in the dining area in this photo. Large windows like that are throughout our home and are very unusual in Nepali houses. We really like all the natural light they let into our house. Unfortunately they are rather leaky, creaky homemade sort of windows that barely keep the wind and rain out. If you look closely you can see there are horizontal bars across all the windows. Those are to keep out robbers and monkeys. I'm not kidding about the monkeys. There are marauding bands of macaques in our town who will come into your home and steal food, pee, generally destroy things, and possibly even bite you. Those bars would really only slow down a determined monkey though.


A close up of the beautiful green marble that covers the floor, window sills, and counter tops in the kitchen. Can you imagine how costly it would be in the US to have marble floors and countertops like that? The marble floors in our house are beautifully matched and bookmarked too. I don't think marble floors are a good idea in a home though, they are dangerously slippery when wet. If you look closely at the photos of the painters you can see they use no masking tape or drop-cloths. That's right, spatters and drips go everywhere! I started putting newspapers down under the painters after I saw what they did to the kitchen floor. 


Here's a shot of the kitchen being painted. That table the paint bucket is setting on is my potting bench from the backyard. The painters brought no ladders nor step-stools with them - just brushes, plaster, and paint. There's another very unusual big window letting lots of light into the kitchen as you can see. The sole light fixture is a bare fluorescent tube by the painter's head. The wires sticking out of the wall in the top right corner are potentially for another light fixture. The sink in the lower right corner is so tiny it's completely useless for anything other that washing your hands or rinsing a teacup. The round hole in the wall to the right of the painter's head is ventilation for the stove. The kitchen was designed for the sort of cooktop you see pictured below. We'd call that a portable camp stove in the US but that is what is most commonly used in kitchens in India and Nepal.


These cooktops are available in a variety of finishes and configurations featuring 2, 3, 4, or even 5 burners. The gas cylinder that powers the stove is stored in a concrete lined cabinet or shoved under counter below it. The hose or piping that connects the stove to the gas cylinder is simply left dangling over the counter. The cooktop was meant to be placed in the tiled corner beneath the hole. I have a freestanding "Western style" Italian made range so I use this corner for the rice cooker and storing the huge stock pots required for making Kashmiri noon chai or salt tea.


Here's where the dishes get washed. Thats my maid washing dishes right outside the kitchen door. A curbed outdoor concrete tub with a single faucet like this is typically where dishes get done in South Asia. Modern mansions as well as simple shacks have this same setup for cleaning kitchen utensils. No matter what the weather the dishes get done outside. This is also where we used to wash our clothes before we got a washing machine too.


And here's the paint samples for the rest of the house. The bedrooms and bathrooms are all that dreary pastel mint green while the hallway and living room are what I call "puke pink." My Swiss friend Cyn (whom is a professional decorator and upholsterer) has brilliantly named this pink, "The color that doesn't go with anything." For some reason this shade of pink is often chosen for rental properties. I chose the top shade called "Clean Khaki" for the hallway and living room since we have dark brown wood furniture and bookshelves throughout. Plus everything ends up khaki-colored here with the ubiquitous dust. I was thinking about the bottom shade of gray for the bathrooms. The tile in the bathrooms is a streaky pale gray but methinks that paint sample looks too much like bare concrete for my taste.

Anywho,
The house is completely torn asunder moving our stuff to paint. Cooking and blogging while all this hoo-haw is going on has been quite the challenge! The painter's boss drops them off at 9 am every morning with no food, tea, or even water.  So I'm cooking tea, snacks and lunch for them too. I'm certain it will al be worth it though. The Sheikh (my beloved husband) says we can't move for another 10 years after all this hassle and expense. Hah!
Stay tuned, 
Bibi

Nov 16, 2016

Lucknowi Chana Dal (Yellow Split Peas with Caramelized Onions)

Lucknowi Chana Dal (Yellow Split Peas with Caramelized Onions) recipe soup easy indian vegan vegetarian

Lucknow is a city in northern India steeped in the royal traditions of the Mughals. Chana dal is Hindi for split yellow peas. In this recipe the richness of caramelized onions gives humble yellow split peas a regal air in true Mughal tradition. A touch of cumin and green chili is just the right amount of spice in this velvety version of split pea soup. A surprisingly easy dish that can also be made vegan. Pairs perfectly with rice and chapattis or simply served as a hearty soup on a chilly Fall or Winter's day.


This recipe is adapted from one of my most recent cookbook acquisitions, Betty Indian Home Cooking by Raghavan Iyer. I think it's hilarious that good old American Betty Crocker did an Indian cookbook. I know Betty Crocker did some rather Americanized Mexican and Chinese cookbooks, but I had no idea there was an Indian one. Those of you who collect Indian cookbooks will probably recognize the author, Raghavan Iyer. Mr Iyer is the author of the much lauded cookbooks 660 Curries and Indian Cooking Unfolded: A Master Class in Indian Cooking, with 100 Easy Recipes Using 10 Ingredients or Less. He does do a good job of presenting recipes from all over India in this beginners' tome. The photos are nice and the book is very well made with high quality paper and binding we've come to expect from Betty Crocker.

Lucknowi Chana Dal (Yellow Split Peas with Caramelized Onions) recipe soup easy indian vegan vegetarian

This is the best recipe in the entire book. This recipe is so easy and the best split pea soup I've ever had. Even my anti-veg mutton-a-holic brother-in-law loves this dal! I initially had my doubts about this recipe as it had only four ingredients - but this has truly become a family favorite! I did make some adjustments to the recipe though. The original recipe called for caramelizing six onions in two tablespoons of ghee or oil and one cup of yellow split peas. Frying six medium sized onions in two tablespoons of any fat is wishful thinking. Even with a non stick or Teflon pan you're going to end up with a burnt mess. (This book was written in 2001 when America was still in it's fat-phobic frenzy so I'm sure Mr Iyer was told to keep oils to a minimum.) Plus that is A LOT of onions! Mughal and Muslim recipes tend to be a bit onion heavy but that's bordering ridiculous. So I decreased the onions to a cup, upped the quantity of yellow split peas to one and a half cups, and increased the cooking oil to three tablespoons. The result was perfection! I use a mixture of ghee or butter and cooking oil because I find that ghee or butter alone can get a scorched taste when frying onions this long. You could certainly skip the ghee or butter and use three tablespoons of cooking oil to make this dish vegan. The key to this dish is getting the onions properly caramelized. If you're in a western country that doesn't have the pinkish Indian onions just use the commonly available yellow onions for the same flavor. There is a little trick I've learned to speed the caramelization of the onions if you're the impatient type like me, I'll put that at the bottom of the page under Helpful Hints if you're interested. Otherwise simply slice the onions as evenly as you can and fry them over medium heat with a watchful eye. Then mix the caramelized onion mixture and cooked peas together to simmer for a bit and enjoy!

Ingredients:
1&1/2 C yellow split peas/chana dal
6 C water
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tsp salt
2 TBS cooking oil
1 TBS ghee or butter (just use cooking oil to make this recipe vegan)
1 C onions, thinly sliced into half moons
1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
2-3 green chilis, chopped finely (use less or omit for less heat)
chopped cilantro, chopped red chilis, sliced red onions (optional for garnish)

Here's what to do:
1) In a 5 quart pressure cooker or deep stock pot combine yellow split peas, 6 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon turmeric. Allow steam for 4-5 whistles if using pressure cooker. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer partially covered for 30 to 45 minutes if using stock pot. If mixture begins to stick or scorch add 1/4 C water, stir well, and reduce heat.


2) While peas are cooking heat cooking oil and ghee in a deep heavy bottomed skillet or kadhai. Fry onions for about 10 minutes or until a golden brown. Add cumin seeds and chopped green chilis to fried onions mixture, stir well and fry for 2-3 minutes. Remove skillet or kadhai from heat immediately. You want your onions caramelized not burnt, err on the side of underdone than over done. Burnt onions are bitter and will ruin the dish.


3) Stir the fried onion mixture into cooked peas. Partially cover and allow to simmer for 10 minutes to blend flavors. The fried onions will float upon the surface of the boiled peas at first. Then after about ten minutes they meld together.


4) Allow mixture to keep simmering until peas are to desired tenderness. You can leave the peas slightly firm and holding their shape or cook them down to velvety smoothness. It's all about what you like! Add a bit of water, reduce heat, and stir well until dal is to desired consistency. Salt to taste, garnish if desired, and serve hot with rice, rotis, or as a soup with buttered bread. 


Helpful Hints:
A little trick I learned on one of these food and science websites to speed up the caramelization of onions is to add a little baking soda while frying. You want to wait until the onions just start to turn brown at the edges, then add about 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda per cup of onions being fried. Raising the pH to a slightly alkaline level will cause the onions to caramelize faster so watch them carefully. The slightly alkaline pH will also cause the onions' cells to lyse so you'll end up with a sort of paste. A paste of caramelized onions is fine for this dish as we're going to simmer them in with the boiled peas until they disentegrate anyway. Now, if you're trying to make the onions that are fried to a delicate crisp called birista - DO NOT use baking soda. 

If you're in a western country where the pinkish Indian style onions I've shown in the above picture aren't available then use the more commonly found yellow onions. Do not use red or purple onions as they are too sugary and will scorch rather than caramelize.

Lucknowi Chana Dal (Yellow Split Peas with Caramelized Onions) recipe soup easy indian vegan vegetarian

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