Gurdwara Dal

1/2 cup chana dal
1/2 cup urid dal
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbls ginger, pounded
1 tomato, chopped finely
2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tbls coriander leaves

Soak dals together for 1 hour, then boil in fresh
water to cover with turmeric until pulpy (1 hour).
Heat 1 tbls ghee and sizzle cumin seeds.
Add ginger and stir. Add ground spices and tomato
– saute 5 minutes. Add dal and simmer 20 minutes.
Add salt and coriander.

Inspired by meal in Gangharia gurdwara – Uttarakhand

Fuul Medammes (Damascus style)

2 cups dried fava beans, soaked in water
12 cloves garlic
juice of 2 lemons
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 tbls flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
Lebanese flat bread

Boil beans in enough fresh water to just
cover until very soft – about 1 hour.
Pound garlic with salt to taste until creamy,
then mix into beans with lemon juice and
half of the olive oil.
Serve beans topped with parsley, tomato,
spring onion and remaining olive oil, with
flat breads.

Inspired by city iftar breakfasts – Damascus

Doufu Baicai (tofu with wongbok)

200g hard tofu, cut in cubes
2 tsp cornflour
2 spring onions, sliced
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 dried red chillies, sliced
450g wong bok, shredded
2 tbls rice wine
1 tbls soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 tbls sesame oil

Dust tofu cubes with cornflour and shallow fry
until golden – set aside. Heat 2 tbls oil and fry
spring onion, garlic and chilli until fragrant.
Add wong bok – stir 1 minute. Add rice wine,
soy sauce, sugar and tofu – stir 2 minutes.
Add sesame oil and mix well – serve hot.

Inspired by meal in random eatery near bus station in Longsheng – Guangxi

Dal Maharani (mixed bean curry)

1/4 cup kidney beans
1/4 cup urad beans
1/4 cup chana dal
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 cm ginger, pounded
3 green chillies, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
coriander leaves

Soak beans together overnight, then drain
and boil in fresh water until tender.
Heat 2 tbls ghee and sizzle cumin and mustard seeds,
add ginger and chillies – saute 2 minutes.
Add onion – fry until golden. Add tomatoes, chilli powder,
turmeric and salt – cook 5 minutes.
Add beans with enough of their water to make a thick gravy
– cook 5 minutes. Add 2 tbls ghee and coriander leaves to serve.

Inspired by thali at Hotel Mansrovar, Almora – Uttarakhand

Mackerel Masala

350g mackerel chunks
80g fresh or frozen grated coconut
6 red chillies
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp tamarind, soaked in a little water
1/4 tsp peppercorns
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
2 cloves garlic
4 pieces dried kokum
1 green chilli, slit
1 small onion, pureed

Marinate fish pieces in a sprinkle of salt.
Puree together coconut, chillies, turmeric,
tamarind, pepper, coriander and garlic with 1/2 cup water.
Heat 2 tbls coconut oil and fry green chilli and onion
until aromatic. Add coconut paste, 1/2 cup water and kokum.
Bring to simmer then add fish and simmer, covered,
5 to 10 minutes – avoid stirring.

Inspired by dish at Udipi Hotel, Panjim – Goa

Muttakoos Thoran (cabbage and coconut stir-fry)

3 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 dried red chillies, chopped
2 stalks curry leaves
2 onions, chopped
5 cm ginger, pounded
2 green chillies, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp pepper
450g cabbage, finely chopped
300g carrots, finely chopped
150g fresh or frozen grated coconut

Heat 4 tbls coconut oil and sizzle mustard seeds,
cumin seeds and dried chillies.
Add curry leaves, onions, ginger, green chillies,
turmeric pepper and salt – fry until soft.
Add cabbage and carrots – mix well then cover and
cook gently 5 minutes.
Add coconut and stir until well incorporated and dry.

Inspired by random thali restaurant, Kottayam – Kerala

Kaddu Dalcha (pumpkin dal)

1 cup toor dal, soaked in water
1 tej patta (bay leaf)
2 cardamom pods, bruised
2 cloves
3 cm cinnamon stick
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 dried chillies, broken
2 stalks curry leaves
200g pumpkin, cubed 2cm
1 onion, chopped
1 cm ginger, pounded
2 cloves garlic, pounded
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli powder
2 tbls tamarind, soaked in water
1/2 tsp garam masala

Boil dal in fresh water to cover until pulpy.
Heat 2 tbls ghee and sizzle tej patta, cardamom,
cloves, cinnamon, cumin, mustard seeds, dried chillies
and curry leaves. Add pumpkin – fry.
Add onion, garlic and ginger – fry until golden.
Add turmeric and chilli powder – stir.
Add tamarind – boil then add dal – simmer 5 minutes.
Add garam masala.

Inspired by meal at Lakshmi Narayan Restaurant, Tirupati.

Char Tow Kway (stir-fried radish cake)

600g radish cake
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cloves garlic, pounded
1 tbls fish sauce
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tbls sambal oelek
3 spring onions, chopped
200g bean sprouts
coriander leaves

Cut radish cake into small chunks and
fry in 3 tbls oil until lightly browned and crisp.
Add garlic – fry until aromatic.
Add fish sauce, pepper and sambal oelek – stir.
Pour in eggs and allow to set slightly.
Add bean sprouts and spring onions – stir well.
Serve garnished with coriander.

Inspired by meal in Jonker Walk night market – Melaka

Sayur-sayuran (vegetable stir-fry)

1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 or 2 cups cauliflower, in florets
1 carrot, sliced
1 or 2 cups wong bok, chunky cut
100g snow peas
1 small red capsicum, chunky cut
100g baby corn, halved
2 tomatoes, chunky cut
300g shimeji mushrooms
3 tbls oyster sauce
2 tsp cornflour, blended with water

Heat 2 tbls coconut oil and saute garlic
and onion until fragrant.
Add vegetables in above order – stir-fry
until tender.
Add 1/3 cup water and oyster sauce – simmer.
Thicken with cornflour.

Inspired by dish at Akob Patin House – Kuantan

Peanut Podi

3 tbls sesame seeds
4 fresh red chillies
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
salt to taste

Dry roast then pound sesame seeds.
Heat 2 tsp oil and saute chillies and asafoetida
3 minutes. Process all ingredients together to
make a course, crumbly mixture.

Inspired by meals at Maharaja Hotel, Chennai