Eventually I gave in to his requests and decided to look online for a version that might appear like it would be better than what I’d had in the past. A recipe I found on Taste.com.au piqued my interest and I decided to give it a try. I am so glad that I did. My version is very loosely based on that recipe. The resulting chana dal with spinach is really good. It packs a good amount of flavour and textures and has worked its way into my heart and my dinner rotation.
It is a simple dish and you can choose to serve it with some rotis / chapatis or as a side to your favourite meat dish.
Chana Dal with Spinach
Adapted from: Taste.com.au
125g Chana dal
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 green chillies, finely chopped (You can use just one if you’d like)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tomato, chopped
1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 tsp cumin seeds
6 fresh curry leaves
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 cups spinach leaves, roughly chopped (You can also use baby spinach)
Salt, to taste
Wash the chana dal a couple of times in water and drain.
Soak the chana dal for about an hour. Drain the water.
Boil the chana dal in some fresh water (about 3 cups) and a tsp of salt. After it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Cook the dal till it has softened but still has some bite to it. You DO NOT want a mush.
Drain and reserve some of the liquids.
Heat the ghee in a large pan over medium high heat.
Add the curry leaves, garlic and cumin.
Once the cumin sputters, add the ginger, chilli and turmeric and stir to mix well.
Once the spices have turned fragrant and have mixed well (should take about a minute or so).
Add the chopped tomato and stir. Cook for a couple of minutes, till the tomato softens and breaks down a little.
Add the chopped spinach / baby spinach and stir it into the spices till it has just wilted.
Add the drained chana dal and stir through. You can add a tablespoon or 2 of the reserved liquid, if you think it is too dry.
You want the liquid to all mostly dry up. Add it one tbsp at a time. You just want enough liquid to help warm the dal through without burning. You may not need any of the liquid at all.
Check the seasoning and add more salt if needed.
If you don’t have ground meat at hand, cocktail sausages / frankfurters cut into little slices also do the job. Precooked (grilled or roasted) chicken and shredded, works nicely too. I love how versatile this recipe is.
Pasta and Meatballs
For the meatballs –
500g ground turkey
1 onion, finely chopped
1 -2 green / red chillies, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
2 slices of bread, soaked in water for a minute or so, squeeze to drain all liquid and crumble
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
A couple of tbsp Vegetable oil
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients, except the vegetable oil
Form into meatballs.
Heat a pan with a tablespoon of vegetable oil.
Fry the meatballs till they are golden brown.
Take off the heat and keep aside.
NOTE: You may need to fry the meatballs in batches. Add more oil to the pan between batches as needed.
For the sauce –
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/4-1/2 green capsicum, chopped
1/2 tsp dried mixed Italian herbs (you can use fresh if you have them on hand)
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes, optional
1 tsp smoked paprika powder
1 can whole peeled tomatoes / diced tomatoes
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
Place a saucepan over medium heat and pour in the olive oil.
Tip in the chopped garlic and saute for a few seconds till nice and fragrant. You do not want the garlic to burn.
Add the onion and fry off till the onions have softened.
Add the capsicum and stir fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the herbs and spices and stir well .
Add the can of tomatoes. If you are using whole peeled tomatoes, just use your spoon to break them down for a chunky sauce. If you want a smoother sauce, blitz the tomatoes in the food processor and then add it to the saucepan. I like mine chunky. (Also worth noting is they say the quality of tomatoes used to can whole, peeled tomatoes is better. The slightly more compromised / bruised ones go to make the canned crushed / diced tomatoes.)
Add salt to taste. Bring to a boil.
I add about 1/4 can of water (use the tomato can to measure and swirl it around to use up all the rest of the tomato sauce) and add as needed, to give you the desired consistency. Let it come to a boil again.
Cover and let the sauce simmer for about 10-15 minutes on low heat. The flavour in the sauce deepens with simmering.
So as you can imagine, I had a heck of a task picking one recipe for the reveal. Along with the creamy mints, the shortlist also comprised of her Cheesy Potato Soup with Ham, Marshmallows, Gnocchi, Churros and Banana Bars, among many others that caught my eye. Well, you’ve probably guessed by now that I made the Banana bars with a Cream Cheese Frosting. The fact that I had 4 bananas slightly past their prime sitting on my counter, helped a lot in the decision making process. So I went with it and was very happy with the outcome. The recipe for the bars and the frosting is super easy to put together and is absolutely delicious. The banana bar base is moist and flavourful and honestly, I could eat it just like that without the frosting or anything. But for all you cream cheese frosting lovers out there, you’ll be happy to hear that the frosting takes it to a whole other level of deliciousness. These bars keep very well too. We had these as tea time treats and I might or might not have had a couple of these as dessert after lunch on my days off 😉 I simply covered them with cling film and refrigerated them and took them out of the fridge and placed them on the kitchen counter about an hour before eating them and it lasted about a week. It might have lasted longer, but we’d happily devoured it by then.
I stuck to the original recipe. Only difference is I used 4 bananas instead of 3, since I wanted to use all 4 bananas that I had. Also, you’ll see from Kate’s pictures (which are so much prettier that mine will ever be) that I used a different sized pan. She recommends a 9″x13″ pan. I used a 9″x9″ since that’s all I had. So I cut my bars into smaller sizes, since they would be a lot thicker than hers.
Yields 16 pieces
For the bars –
4 ripe bananas
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
A pinch of salt
Heat the oven to 180ºC and grease the baking pan.
Peel and mash the bananas in a large bowl.
Mix in the sugar, oil and eggs till well combined.
Stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
Pour into a the prepared baking pan and bake for about 40-45 minutes or till done. (Note this was because I used a smaller pan resulting in thicker bars. If you are using a 9″x13″ pan, the bars will be thinner and you’ll need to start checking to see if its done around the 20 minute mark.)
Cool the bars completely before frosting.
While the bars are cooling, you can make the frosting.
For the Cream Cheese frosting –
3 oz Cream Cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
A splash of vanilla
3 cups icing sugar
Beat the cream cheese and butter till well combined.
Add the vanilla and the icing sugar half a cup at a time and beat between additions till you get the desired consistency. I ended up using the whole 3 cups.
To assemble –
When the banana bread has cooled through completely, spread the Cream Cheese frosting over the top.
Cut into bars / squares.