Archive for November 29, 2007

Grindless AFAM With a Few Dates, a Persimmon, and Notalotta Toor Dal Gravy

A jumbled-up multiple-event post, to mirror my life of late — also jumbled-up with multiple events!

All in the mad-dash runup to Thanksgiving, I was trying to keep in mind the three things I wanted to cook for:

RCI: Bihar — hosted by lovely Sangeeta, event hostess with the mostess, who also had us over for JFI: Eggplant, yum 🙂

(Ok, whew! made it to RCI: Bihar in time!)

AFAM: Dates — hosted by talented Chandrika,
whose photography I salivate over 🙂


Grindless Gravies — for dear Sra, whose keen dry wit I admire so much 🙂
(see ISG’s Grindless Gravy post and comments) 😉

These, and I had Thanksgiving dinner, the only *big* holiday celebration in my home for multitude of folks — musn’t neglect that!

And of course all the while, there is JFI — and my very own turn, Jihva for Toor Dal!
I have been so happy about this, wanting to cook every entry that has been sent thus far! Day and night, I couldn’t stop thinking about toor dal — ’till one morning I found myself wanting to toss some toor dal into a bowl of cottage cheese and sprinkle some sambhar powder, just to see how that would taste.

I may be slightly obsessed 😉

So I hope Chandrika and Sra will forgive my inclusion of toor dal in my entries for their events — for Sangeeta’s I managed to get away without a drop in the khichdi.


First up, for AFAM: Dates!

toor dal chutney
toor dal chutney with dates and persimmon

Toor Dal Chutney with Dates and Persimmon
inspired by Shyam and Indira

1 tsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 dry red (kashmiri) chiles
1/2 c onion, chopped
1/2 c dates, chopped
1 ripe persimmon, peeled and diced
1 fistful toor dal, washed (about 1/3 c)
1/4 – 1/2 c water

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over med-high and add the cumin seeds. When they crackle, add the chiles and reduce heat to medium.
Stir a minute until the chiles darken, then add chopped onion. Fry a few minutes till onion begins to color, then add dates, persimmon, and dal.
Stir and fry again for 2-3 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low and add the water, couple of tablespoons at a time. Allow mixture to steam nearly dry before adding more water. The dal should be softened but not cooked through — about ten minutes should do. Stir in a little salt, remove pan from the heat and allow cool.

Grind the mixture using only as much water as needed for a medium-thick consistency. We don’t want to grind the dal to bits.

Taste for salt and serve chutney warm or room temperature, with dosa, idlies, potato upma as I did, or perhaps just a spoon 😉

toor dal chutney and potato upma
savory late night supper ~ spicy toor dal chutney with potato upma


Then for Grindless Gravies!

potato, onion and toor dal
chopped onion, diced potato, and washed toor dal ~ makings of a grindless gravy

Grindless Potato Sambhar Gravy
inspired by my lack of concentration the other night
when making sambhar with far too much water

for grindless gravy

1 fistful toor dal (about 1/3 c), washed
2 big potatoes, diced roughly (preferably russets)
1/2 c onion, chopped
1 small lump (about 2 TB) soft tamarind paste
(not the hard imli block, but similarly packaged soft paste or use tamcon)
1 small lump jaggery
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp oil
1/4 tsp turmeric
3-4 c water

for tadka

1 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp cumin seed
2 dried red (kashmiri) chiles
5-6 curry leaves

secret ingredient
1-2 tsp ISG’s Magic Sambhar Powder

Salt to taste


Pressure cook the grindless gravy ingredients about 10-12 minutes. Let the pressure come down on its own, and when safe, open the cooker and mash the mixture with a potato masher to nearly smooth. Try to leave some chunks of potato.

Return pan to the heat and add secret ingredient and salt to taste. Simmer 5-10 minutes. The potato should break down almost totally, making a lovely thick (grindless) gravy.
If it’s too thick, add a little water — if too thin, simmer a little longer.
When the consistency is just as you desire, hold aside and…

In a small pan, heat the oil and do the tadka, adding chiles and curry leaves after mustard and cumin pop.

Pour tadka over the hot potato gravy and cover for a few minutes.

Serve hot with a dollop of ghee (if you like your gravy plain) or serve over any rice or vegetable of your choice. Roasted or steamed cauliflower is a great side dish to mix in with the grindless gravy (with hardly any toor dal!) 🙂

potato sambhar with notalotta toor dal
grindless potato sambhar gravy (with hardly any toor dal!)

Thank you ladies, one and all, for getting my creative kitchen juices flowing. Both these dishes will be regulars in my kitchen from now on!

I will be sending the entries properly in a day or two 🙂

Comments (10)

For The Birds

Special visitors!

pine siskin on thistle sock
You know it might be a great winter for birds when a pine siskin shows up
amongst your autumn goldfinches. The two are very similar in size, plumage,
and behavior; a siskin’s tell-tale streaking will give him away every time

thanksgiving day visitor
This little goldfinch was resting on the front steps, Thanksgiving Day.
He was likely stunned after mistakenly hitting a window.
Happily he recovered quickly and flew off.

pileated woodpecker

The magnificent and often elusive pileated woodpecker rarely ventures close enough for a glimpse, nevermind a photo. This juvenile was hungry enough to pose outside Traverse City, Michigan last August.

Ah, Michigan… summertime dreaming! 🙂

Comments (15)

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