Coconut Dal and Sweet Potatoes with Banana-Coconut CurryNovember 3, 2009
After a long Halloween weekend, I flipped on the Food Network and watched a bit of The Next Iron Chef. This week’s episode was all about Indian cuisine. It provided the inspiration for last night’s dinner.
Now, please understand, I’m not really familiar with Indian food outside of restaurants, so it took quite a bit of reading (mostly from Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World) to tweak my concept. Okay, and the Dal is basically stolen from him.
The inspiration for the curry dish comes from my godmother, Barbara Lesch McCaffry, who makes a banana yam dish for Thanksgiving every year. I figured that a nice Indian curry would be a nice reinterpretation of the dish.
I was right.
We start with the Coconut Dal because it takes more than a few minutes to make. I should have fired up the pressure cooker for this one.
1 lb lentils
1 c. coconut milk or unsweetened shredded coconut (I used the latter, but added a spoonful of the coconut milk because I’m a rebel)
1/2 c. brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
- Place all ingredients except the salt and pepper in a large pot
- Pour enough water to cover the lentils by 2-3 inches and bring to a boil
- Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and cook for 60 – 75 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
- Add more water as needed to keep the lentils at least an inch under water.
- If the water begins to simmer too violently, turn down the heat. A gentle simmer will keep the lentils from breaking apart.
- When lentils are tender, add salt and pepper. Serve.
Sweet Potatoes with Banana-Coconut Curry
2 medium sized sweet potatoes, roasted in a 350° oven until tender, but not mushy, then peeled and sliced into half-moons
2 medium bananas, also sliced on the bias
2 T. curry powder, homemade preferred (recipe to follow)
1/2 c. coconut milk
- In a nonstick skillet, heat a small amount of olive oil. Saute sweet potatoes with the oil for a few seconds, then add the curry powder.
- Continue to saute the sweet potatoes and curry powder until fragrant. Add banana slices and toss to coat banana with curry powder.
- Add coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 2 minutes or until thick and bubbly.
(also from Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World)
1 t. black peppercorns
3 seeds from white cardamom pods
1 T. cumin seeds
1 T. coriander seeds
1 T. fennel seeds
2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. cayenne, or to taste
1 t. ground fenugreek
2 t. ground turmeric
- Combine the peppercorns, cloves, and seeds in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until lightly browned and fragrant, just a few minutes; for the last minute of cooking, add the powdered spices.
- Cool, then grind to a fine powder in a spice or coffee grinder. Alternatively, put in a plastic bag and crush into a powder using a rolling pin. It’s not quite as good, but a decent alternative. A mortar and pestle works, too.
- Store in a tightly covered opaque container for several months in a cool, dark place.