i had indian buffet on xmas & when i was eating, i couldn’t help thinking that i could do it better myself. so i began to crave daal makhani. i looked to see what beans i had on hand & found some pink lentils & yellow split peas. that will do. and a fat jar of ghee in my fridge i keep forgetting i have even though the recipe does not call for it but i happen to think it makes a huge difference.

then i saw these baby chick peas so i got them soaking, went to work, went shopping for the necessaries (ginger/garlic/green chili mixture is used in most asian cultures), a pomegranate (i had to roast the seeds & grind) & damnit! that amchoor powder again, which i could not locate without going to the indian hood. that’s mango powder & it keeps showing up in indian recipes. i have hing, but not amchoor powder. so i had to do without. i planned on also making channa chole masala.

i lined up the tools & spices that i was going to need before i left my house, soaked the beans & picked the rest up. i have to make these lines of ingredients because there’s’ SO many spices & ingredients in indian food that it’s easy to forget something. it’s also wise to have mostly whole spices on hand because sometimes you cook beans in the whole ones, like black cardamom & cinnamon sticks, & if needed ground, the very best you can do is roast it whole & grind it up yourself. seriously. this makes a HUGE difference.

the channa was cooked with tea bags! among other things. i’ve never done or thought of this before & it sure opens a lot of doors for me. think of all the kinds of tea out there! you can enhance just about anything with a tea bag!

who knew?

yes, this was time-consuming. but i don’t care. in the kitchen, i enjoy the long haul. one last thing. do NOT settle for crap basmati rice. buy the best you can find & steam it. don’t boil. this food is far too much work to ruin with bad rice.

today i’m going to make fresh paratha or chappatis. the dishes have had a chance to meld their spicy goodness in the fridge overnight & i’m certain it will taste even better.

another tip-when using the show me the curry site (i use it most of the time) & you want it even more authentic & punchy/spicy, you need to double or triple the spices. & seriously. roast it whole & grind it up. and don’t forget the kidney beans in the daal. it really makes a difference. in chicago here, we can’t get good fresh tomatoes this time of year so i just bought high quality canned & it worked probably better because of the added tomato juices.

this is perfect healthy winter comfort food. you can actually lose weight if you stick to this kind of food this time of year. i think i’m on my way to playing with more lentils & beans. with all the amazing spices & ghee, you don’t even miss the meat.