Instant Pot Yellow Dal

Instant Pot Yellow Dal

The air smells of pine as it whips in the window. Up here, it’s 62 degrees. The Aspens have turned; their bright yellow leaves look stark against the pine trees mixed among them. The air is thin, there is not a bar of cell service to be found, and the moon is up. This is Mount Evans.

We’ve gone to Mount Evans to climb several times this summer and the change in elevation is always the perfect escape from the summer heat. (Eh-hem, I’ve obnoxiously shared the exact same view every weekend for the last month on my Instagram stories. I just can’t help it — the view takes my breath away every time.) Lately though, it’s been even better than usual because of the fall colors and crisp air. And, even I avoid cooking when it’s ninety degrees out, but when it’s only sixty-two, bring ooooon the baked goods, stews, and cozy foods.

Instant Pot Yellow Dal
Instant Pot Yellow Dal

I love red lentils when the weather starts to turn, and my go-to is dal. It’s creamy, spicy, satisfying, and so easy to make in an Instant Pot. So easy! The best weekend days start with breakfast, take us climbing somewhere among the Aspens, and end in dinner from the Instant Pot.

Instant Pot Yellow Dal

Instant Pot Yellow Dal

Published October 11, 2018 by
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Serves: 8   |    Active Time: 30 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small red onions or 1 large, diced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon whole black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Juice 1/2 lime, plus wedges for serving
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced, plus more for garnish

  • Directions:

    1. Turn the Instant Pot (affiliate link!) to sauté setting. Add coconut oil to the Instant Pot. When the oil is hot, sauté the garlic, onions, ginger, and jalapeño, stirring occasionally.
    2. When the onions are transparent, add the lentils, broth, cumin, coriander, curry powder, mustard seeds, salt, lime juice, and cilantro and stir.
    3. Place lid on Instant Pot and turn to “Bean” setting. Set timer for 8 minutes with the seal closed.
    4. When the timer goes off, release the pressure or allow it to release naturally. Stir the lentils, and serve hot with lime wedges and cilantro.
    5. To make this on the stove top instead of an Instant Pot: Use a large soup pot. In step 3, bring everything to a simmer and cook, stirring occassionally, for 15-20 minutes, until lentils are softened through.
    6. Note: If you soak your lentils for 6-12 hours ahead of time (we usually do this), then strain water from lentils before use. Reduce broth quantity to 4 cups, and reduce cooking time to 4 minutes.

    Creamy Chana Masala

    Creamy Chana Masala

    Longtime readers of this blog are familiar with my stories from Northern India, a trip I made when I was sixteen (you can read about how the trip inspired my Indian Carrot Pudding recipe, or this Slow Cooker Kashmiri Braised Lamb). This year (2018) is exactly a decade after that trip, but moments from that adventure are stamped vividly forever in my memory: stepping in cow dung on the overwhelming and noisy streets of New Delhi; playing on the shores of the Chandrabhaga River, snapping pictures of the rocks and sand as if there was something special about sand in India versus Colorado; eating dinner on the rooftop of a hotel in Udaipur on New Years Eve, lights glimmering against the river below; knocking on a small door in an alleyway, with a little sign next to it that said “cooking school;” and many more.

    There is something about our brains at sixteen years old: they are pliable, receptive, and ready to learn. They are forming and reforming and reinforcing with every visual we take in. I was the perfect age for that trip. Open, ready, receiving. And my mind did just that. It formed connections that would never be broken, a passion for an older world, where roads are made of laid stone and brightly colored buildings are crammed together. A craving for chapati and mounds of spices and Chana Masala.

    Creamy Chana Masala
    Creamy Chana Masala

    When we passed through that small door in the alley, a short woman ushered us into her home. She got out paper and a pen, and asked what we would like to learn to cook. She made notes, and suggestions, and then told us when to come back for our lesson. 

    Boldly I remember the simplicity of her kitchen. People talk about having a “minimalist kitchen” these days, but this was on a whole different level. The walls, the floor, the shelves, the cooking surface (the counter, if it could be called that), were all made of the same grey-ish stone material, solid and a bit bleak. A window behind us, with no glass pane, looked down on the street. There just enough room for the four of us: the teacher, my dad, myself, and our teacher's little daughter who must’ve been no more than three or four years old. She sat perched on the cooking surface in the corner, making flat bread.

    Chana Masala is one of the dishes we learned to make that day. It's simple, if you know what to do.

    This recipe is a bit different from the one we learned to make in Indian. For one, the grocery stores here in the United States have nothing on the markets of India when it comes to finding curry blends. But also, I've added coconut milk to the mix, which makes it nice and creamy. Coconut and curry go together so well, I highly recommend giving it a spin. 

    Creamy Chana Masala

    Creamy Chana Masala

    Published May 3, 2018 by
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    Serves: 4   |    Total Time: 30 minutes



    Ingredients:

    • 2 tablespoon coconut oil or ghee
    • 2 onions, diced
    • 7 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 inch ginger, minced
    • 1 serrano chili, minced
    • 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon ground curry powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 2 14-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
    • 1 cup full-fat canned coconut milk
    • 1 teaspoon lime juice
    • Fresh cilantro for serving

    Directions:

    1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet until it glistens (I use my 5-qt Le Creuset Braiser (affiliate link!), but if you don't have a pan this large you might want to make a half recipe). Add diced onion, garlic, and ginger to the pan, and sauté until onion is transparent. Add minced serrano chili, crushed tomatoes and water, and bring to a simmer.
    2. Add cumin, salt, curry powder, coriander, and water to the pan, and stir. Then, add the chickpeas and coconut milk. Place lid on pan and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice, until chickpeas are warmed through and coconut milk is melted in.
    3. Finish by stirring in the lime juice and topping with cilantro. Serve hot over rice, cauliflower rice, etc.

    Easy Sweet Potato & Chicken Curry

    Sweet Potato & Chicken Curry

    The bad news first: I was in the middle of photographing some oatmeal banana chocolate chip cookies when my camera took a field trip… off the kitchen counter, to the floor. It took the hit hard. So, without a way to take pictures for a little while, I’ll be posting less for the next few weeks. I have a enough recipes in my backlog that I’ll be posting one recipe a week for the next few weeks instead of my usual two. My new camera is on backorder, so I’m crossing my fingers it gets here ASAP! 

    The good news: I have curry to drown my sorrows in. 😉 Just kidding -- sort of. 

    Do you have a food you can’t live without? Maybe peanut butter? Or chocolate? Those are really good choices, and I would put them on my must-have list for sure (especially chocolate).

    An oddball item on my list is curry. (You may have gotten that from the number of curry recipes already living on this blog. What can I say? I’m obsessed). I know, I know, curry is a really vague word. Am I talking about Thai curry? The bold and spicy curry of South India? Or maybe something warm, inspired by the Himalayas.

    Sweet Potato & Chicken Curry
    Sweet Potato & Chicken Curry

    I’m going to give you a cop-out answer, and say I love them all. I like the whole category of curries, marked by their blend of spices, though most often I make curries inspired by Thailand or northern India. This is an example of the later. It offers a ying and yang of spicy and creamy; of hot and cool; of sweet and savory. Few other dishes are quite so satisfying. 

    This sweet potato & chicken curry is one actually an oldie from the blog -- something I originally published over two years ago! It needed a bit of a face lift, and I was more than happy to accommodate... This sweet and savory curry is welcome in my house anytime, but especially when we have a foot of snow outside (which we do right now!). 

    Sweet Potato & Chicken Curry

    Easy Sweet Potato & Chicken Curry

    Published February 20, 2018 by
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    Serves: 4   |    Total Time: 30 minutes



    Ingredients:

    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil 
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 inch ginger, minced
    • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
    • 1 serrano chile, minced
    • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1 tablespoon ground curry powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds (whole)
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • Optional: dash of cayenne pepper, for extra heat
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced (or 1 large)
    • 2 14-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes (diced works too, will just be a chunkier curry)
    • 1 cup canned full-fat coconut milk
    • For serving: minced cilantro, roasted cashews, and your choice of rice/cauliflower rice/quinoa/etc

    Directions:

    1. Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil glisten, add diced onion, minced garlic, and minced ginger. Sauté until onions are transparent.
    2. Add the cubed chicken to the pan, browning on each side for about 3 minutes, and then turning to cook the other side. Add the minced serrano chile, spices, and salt, and stir.
    3. Add the diced sweet potato, along with the canned tomatoes, and coconut milk. Stir to incorporate everything.
    4. Bring to a simmer and place lid on pan, cooking until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Prick potatoes with a fork to ensure they are soft all the way through.
    5. Serve curry hot, sprinkled with cilantro and toasted cashews, along with a side of rice/cauliflower rice/quinoa/etc.