Lentil nuggets and curry sauce

Urad dal pakoras(3)

Not enough can be said to extol the virtues of lentils specially in a vegan/vegetarian diet.  They are full of nutrition and a source of protein and should be the mainstay of any vegan or vegetarian diet – they are so versatile and you lose out big time if you don’t get to know them intimately. There is a huge variety of lentils available and yet most of us don’t venture beyond orange lentils or mung beans.  Did you know that lentils without the skin taste completely different to lentils with the skin – for example, take the ubiquitous orange lentil – have you tried the very same with the skin? a very different story ……

Lentil nuggets are deliciously crunchy and so easy to make and yet for some reason had slipped off my repertoire – some things do and then one day it just appears on the radar, triggered by some unknown thought or action….who knows! Anyway, the other day I opened the cupboard to get my usual orange lentils out and spotted the jar of urad dal which I admit doesn’t get as much attention from me as the other lentils….and that is how it came to be.

Urad dal pakoras(2)

I forgot to soak the lentils overnight but 4 hours in luke warm water is enough and does the trick. As I was doing the nuggets as part of our evening meal, I decided to make a curry sauce with floating nuggets and you can see for yourself that it was a huge success – lentil nuggets are back on the menu!  For this curry sauce I used yogurt instead of tomatoes but there is nothing to stop you from adding a tablespoon or so of tomato puree.

Urad dal pakoras(6)

Urad dal is a sticky lentil so if you add a little to your regular orange lentil, it will give it a slightly gloopy texture – try it.  Lentil nuggets can be made with just urad dal or a 50/50 combination of urad and mung dal but I have used just urad for this recipe. Give it a go and you’ll see what I mean – it is so simple and the texture of the nuggets is firm and crunchy unlike pakoras made with gram flour (basan).

Makes about 15-16 nuggets

Ingredients

200 grams skinless urad dal (soak overnight in cold water or for 4 hours in warm water)
1 teaspoon onion granules
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon paprika
½ level teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Handful of chopped fresh coriander
Oil to fry
Little chopped fresh coriander for garnish

Method

  • Rinse the soaked dal and grind in blender to a coarse, thick paste
  • Add all the ingredients and mix well

Urad dal pakoras

  • Gently form into small, golf size balls – the balls will be soft but that’s fine
  • Heat some oil in a small wok – about ¼ inch of oil
  • Fry the nuggets for 10 minutes, turning to brown all sides. Using 2 forks to turn them over works well for me
  • Serve with a sweet chutney or in a curry sauce (see below) and eat with rice

Curry sauce

Urad dal pakoras(5)

Ingredients

1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
1½ inch piece ginger, minced or finely chopped
2 teaspoons curry powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (available at all Asian stores or online – buy small packet as it goes a long way)
½ teaspoon paprika (for colour)
Little salt
100ml unsweetened natural yogurt (I used Sojade)

Method

  • Fry the onion in oil until golden
  • Mix all the spices with the yogurt and a little water and add to the onions
  • Fry the spices for about 6-7 minutes, adding small splashes of water if required
  • Add about 400ml of water and let the curry sauce simmer on low for about 20 minutes
  • Check the sauce for preferred consistency and add the urad dal nuggets and simmer for a further 5 minutes
  • Sprinkle the chopped coriander and serve with boiled rice

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