I have to confess that my mother-in-law’s recipes hold an exotic appeal. Whoever heard of cooking with freshly roasted and ground chana dal and urad dal and white sesame seeds in the form of a spice mixture?
This mixed vegetable dish of hers allows me to throw into a pan every leftover and straggling vegetable that can be found in my refrigerator drawer. Such as cauliflower, carrots, beans, peas, potatoes, pumpkin, bell peppers. While the vegetables are cooking, the spice mixture gets prepared by roasting chana dal, urad dal, whole red chilli pepper, cumin seeds and white sesame seeds (called safed til) in a little ghee. The whole spices are then coarsely ground in the food processor. When the vegetables are done, the freshly prepared spice powder gets added in at the end. The spices coat the sauteed vegetables and within a minute or two, I have a dish full of brightly colored vegetables with a nutty, crunchy and warm spice taste that can be eaten with rice or rotis. I find that this dish tastes especially good with rice: the spice rubs its nuttiness into the rice as I mash the vegetables in with my fingertips.
Mixed vegetables (any combination and could be more or less of the following):
1 medium-sized cauliflower, cut in small florets
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup beans, chopped
1 large potato, cubed
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tbsp ghee
Spice mixture (order in which added to hot ghee):
2 tbsp chana dal
1 tbsp urad dal
1-2 dried red chilli peppers, depending on desired spice level
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
1. Heat oil in the pan. Add the mixed vegetables and stir. Cook covered on medium to low heat until soft. Open occasionally and stir. Leave uncovered when soft.
2. Simultaneously, heat the ghee in a small pan. Add the spices in the order listed, pausing for several seconds between each. Roast, stirring frequently, until the smell of the spices is released and the color of the chana dal turns golden brown. Remove from heat, allow to cool and then grind coarsely in a food processor.
3. Stir the spice mixture into the pan of cooking vegetables. Add salt to taste. Cook for a minute or so and remove from the heat.