Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fragrant Barley-Mung Dal Soup With Winter Squash and Carrots

Mung dal cooks up so luxuriously velvety, one has to experience it! Mung Dal used here is skinless and split, is a lovely yellow color, and cooks very quickly in about 20 minutes compared to regular split peas (they are good too) which can take as much as an hour or more to reach creaminess. I make this soup often for family and friends who just can't get enough of it! It is full of the goodness of squash and carrots and redolent with the fragrant spices.

The only problem was that our family did not care for the veggies that become mushy when cooked. Pureed veggies were alright at first but kind of boring and pasty without the texture.

So one day I had the grand inspiration to grate the veggies for the soup! It was absolutely amazing; the veggies cooked very fast and and enriched the soup beyond imagination:)! Although the grated veggies practically vanished, they still retained their texture and worked their flavor magic too. The soup was wonderfully creamy and fragrant with the veggies distributed throughout!! And it looked absolutely GORGEOUS! Did I say we love this soup :)?

6 - 8 Servings

Ingredients:

2 cup split, skinless Mung dal
1/4 cup Barley
1/2 small Kabocha or Butternut squash (Optional)
2 large zucchinis
2 large carrots
2 or 3 Tbsp Canola or Olive oil
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh Ginger, finely grated
1 green Jalapeno chili, deseeded and minced
1 sprig fresh Curry Leaves
2 tsp Sambar Powder
1 tsp ground Turmeric
2 tsp Salt
Freshly ground Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 or 2 Tablespoons Ghee (Indian clarified butter) or unsalted butter OR oil
1 tsp Whole Cumin Seeds
1 pinch Asafetida

Method:

Check the dal and remove discolored beans, stones and other debris. Wash the dal and barley in plenty of water two or three times and cook in water to cover until very soft and creamy. Dal and barley can be pressure cooked as well.

Wash and grate carrots and zucchini (lightly peel the carrots if you wish). Dice the Kabocha or Butternut Squash into tiny cubes if using. Mince the Jalapeno chili. Finely chop the onion.

Heat the oil with the cumin seeds. When they dance and brown slightly, add the chopped onion, curry leaves, chili, ginger and a pinch of salt. Cook stirring until the onions are soft. Stir in all the spices, salt and then the grated and chopped veggies. Cook and stir for about 2 or 3 minutes. Add enough water to just cover the veggies, about 2 or 3 cups. Let the soup come to a boil, turn heat down, and add the cooked dal. Stir well to mix thoroughly and simmer for 5 minutes. Add boiling water to the desired consistency. Check and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste if necessary.

Heat the Ghee/oil (or the butter) in a small pan until very hot. Add Cumin seeds and when they brown a little, add the asafetida. Stir in this spicy Ghee and the chopped cilantro into the soup; let sit for 5 minutes or for the flavors to meld. Serve hot.

The leftover soup can be cooled and frozen for up to a few weeks. Enjoy!!

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