Swiss chard dal with panch phoran

Off late, I have been on a quest to include as many leafy greens into our meals , so I am always on a lookout for new recipes to make the greens taste better so the whole family will eat. Having said that, I have had my own share of failures with times when the collard greens that I cooked made me feel like a cow. My quest to find the perfect collard green recipe continues.

On one such grocery trip, I was tempted to buy a bunch of fresh swiss chard that was staring at me in the produce isle. Of course, I bought the greens, cleaned them, chopped them and left them in the crisper drawer, only to see them staring back at me on a lazy saturday afternoon as I rummaged through the refrigerator to figure out our next meal for the day! I have recently been introduced to east indian cooking and I have truly been amazed at the use of spices and how different it is from the south indian and north indian cooking that I am familiar with. So, I decided to use the spice blend that has been fairly unique to this region – the “panch phoron”. Panch phoron is a whole spice mix used in Bangladeshi and east indian cooking. It typically contains onion seeds (kalonji), fenugreek seeds (methi), fennel seeds, cumin seeds and yellow mustard seeds. Being the experimental cook that I am, and since I had no yellow mustard seeds, I substituted black mustard seeds for yellow and added oregano (ajwain) seeds to the mix. The results were absolutely delicious!!

Here is a pic – swiss chard dal

Here is my recipe –

Ingredients –

Panch phoron

Mustard seeds

Ajwain seeds ( Oregano)

Fennel

Fenugreek seeds

Cumin seeds

Onion seeds

Moong Dal – 1 cup

Swiss chard or any other leafy green cleaned and chopped – 1 cup

Onion – chopped – 1 small

Tomatoes – chopped 1 small

Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp

chopped green chillies – 1 tsp ( Optional)

Tamarind – 1 lemon size

Oil/ghee – 1 tbsp

Turmeric – 1 tsp

Red chilli powder – 1 tsp

Asafoetida – a pinch

Cilantro – to garnish

1.Wash and cook the moong dal in a pressure cooker. Soak tamarind in some warm water and extract the juice.

2 In a pan add oil/ghee. Add the panch phoron. If you are using black mustard seeds like me, add the mustard before you add the other spices because they take longer to splutter and they will not taste good if they dont splutter in the oil. Add chopped onions and fry till they are soft and translucent. I add salt when I cook my onions. It makes the onions sweat and cooks the onions faster. Add turmeric and ginger garlic paste and cook till the raw smell is gone.

3. Add tomatoes to this mix and cook till they are soft. Add some salt and chilli powder and cook till the tomatoes leave the sides. This is an important step if you want your dal to taste good.

4. Add the greens and cook till soft

5. Add cooked dal, tamarind extract and salt to taste and let it boil.

Garnish with cilantro Serve warm with rice or rotis.

Tips –

1.My mother in law is of the firm belief that dal should always be made in ghee and I totally agree with her because it surely enhances the taste of dal. Although, that may not be everyone’s opinion. I use ghee for the little one’s meal and use oil for our meals, unless I am in a mood to totally splurge  or impress someone ;).

2. Always cook your onions and tomatoes till they leave the sides of the pan. This is a sure shot way of making your food taste god.

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