Tarka Dhal

*Edited
Sorry for the long silence. Between getting sick and starting a second job I just haven’t had the time to sit down and blog as much as I would like. I am hoping this week to start carving out more time to dedicate to the blogging world so I can get back into things. This post accidentally went out on Thursday minus any images and after I discovered it went out I quickly took it down. So now I am over due it to you so here we go.

A few weeks ago someone asked if anyone had some good Indian Curry recipes, I thought to myself ‘Oh of course I do, I make curry a few times a month’. But then I looked through my posts and I realized I didn’t have as many as I thought I did. Shame on me.

Curry is the national dish of in England and it is a cuisine that we love and enjoy every month. So I am rectifying the lack of good Indian curry dishes with this fantastic lentil curry, Tarka Dhal. I never knew how much I could love lentils until I tried my first lentil curry, which admittedly wasn’t Indian but Malaysian. When I was 14 we went to Malaysia and I was first introduced to lentil curry. I had only eaten one type of curry dish up until that point but I discovered curry is so much more then just one dish. I have to admit I had no idea how vast the curry world was. The possibilities are endless, there are sweet curries, spicy curries, creamy curries, tomato based curries, vegetable curries, meat curries, I really could go on. If I posted a curry recipe every day I probably wouldn’t run out of unique recipes to share after several months. I could almost guarantee that if you don’t like curry there is probably a curry out there for you. Different cultures have their own versions and their own mixture of spices. I was recently introduced to North African curries and now have a new culinary cuisine that I can’t live without.

One of the wonderful things about a Dhal curry (lentil curry) is they are very cheap to make. I keep all of these ingredients on hand so recipes like this make their way into my kitchen frequently when my budget is at its tightest. This recipe was a new one for my to try and I have to admit I was slightly confused by some of the original instructions and I had to make a few changes to match what I had on hand. I am a bit confused by the original recipe’s instructions for what you do with the chillies. The result is a bit strange of a process and I am not sure what it adds but I will say this tasted wonderful so I guess in the end that is all that matters. Right?

Tarka Dhal

250g (1 1/2 c.) red lentils, rinsed until the water runs clear
1 litre (4 1/4 c.) water
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 small onion, chopped
3-4 whole green chillies, pricked with a knife (my chillies were large so I just added 2)
2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips
3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
3 tomatoes
3/4 tsp ground turmeric
3/4 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
Adapted from BBC Food

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Caramelised Carrot and Coriander Risotto

I have a risotto obsession and I am not afraid to admit it. I could eat this creamy rice dish every day of the week and thankfully my family loves it as well so they don’t mind all the experimenting with flavours I do. I just can’t seem to run out of flavour combinations for this tasty dish. And just when I think I found my favourite version I find a new one. So when I saw Becca, from Amuse Your Bouche‘s recipe for a Caramelised Carrot and Coriander Risotto I just had to try it. This slightly sweet and cheesy risotto is perfect as a meat-free dinner option for the whole family. Go check out Becca’s blog and her amazing vegetarian dishes. I hit a cooking block last week as I was struggling to come up with more meat-free ideas for our month challenge and I have been so inspired by her amazing dishes.

Caramelised Carrot and Coriander Risotto

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced (although I like mine sliced in risottos)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, finely grated
1 1/2 tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
200g (1 c.) arborio rice
1 litre (4 c.) vegetable stock
50g (3/4 c.) cheddar cheese, grated
3 Tbsp fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
100g (3 oz) fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
Recipe from Amuse Your Bouche

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Happy New Year! Enjoy a bowl of Chicken Tortilla Soup with some exciting news *Review*

Happy New Year everyone! I can’t believe another year has gone by so quickly. I am so excited for 2013 and all it has in store for me and Small Wallet, Big Appetite. This year I will begin content writing for a great parenting blog Mama.Mommy.Mom and I am so excited to join the team. I will also be undertaking another adventure that I want to share with you.

Let me start off by saying as a blogger one of the perks is that sometimes companies as your to review their products. This can be great for me and you the reader because it can introduce us to new products and items. I am very picky about what I do review and I try to make sure that the products fit with Small Wallet, Big Appetite. So when HooRag contacted me and asked me to review their tubular bandana my first thought was, this won’t fit. But I have big news for 2013 and it will involve having to wear something to keep my hair within health and safety guidelines so I thought this would be a fun way to announce it. First of all HooRag tubular bandanas are really cute and can be a simple way to keep your hair out of your face and gulp…food. I am not like my sisters in the way they can take things like a simple piece of fabric and somehow tie it up into their hair and have it look fabulous. I am what I call hair ignorant, my hair is either straight or in a pony tail, not very cute. So I had a lot of fun playing around with my new HooRag and trying out the different ways to do it.

So now the question is how does this tie into my news?

Have you guessed it?

Well I am finally taking a leap of faith and doing something I have only dreamed of. 2013 is going to be the year that I open a food stand in the market and hopefully that will one day lead to opening my own restaurant. My stall will serve Mexican Food, yes I am going to help teach Newbury what California Mexican food should taste like. i.e. it should NOT taste like those Old El Paso mixes.

Eek! I am both excited and terrified. I have never done anything like this before and there are so many things I need to do, including getting my food and safety certificate. And I have to say I am happy to know I can wear my cute HooRag instead of a hair net.

So in celebration of my news I thought I would share a dish I have been working on, Tortilla Soup. Tortilla Soup is one of those soups where everyone has their own version. I don’t think I have ever been to a restaurant or someone’s house where it was served the same way. I fell in love with a version that my aunt served us when she was living in Mexico and I have been working on adapting her recipe. It is going to be so much better when I can buy the right chilies wholesale but I have to say for not having the right chilies this soup turned out wonderful.

So once again Happy New Year from Small Wallet, Big Appetite. Thank you for joining in on the adventure in 2012 and I hope you will continue to enjoy the adventure in 2013.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 boneless chicken breast halves,
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground coriander
480mL (2 c.) Chicken stock
155g. (1 c.) whole corn kernels, cooked
10g (1/4 c.) chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
crushed tortilla chips
sliced avocado
sour cream
grated cheese *optional
1 can *Mexican Red Sauce*
or 3 Dried red ancho chili’s
water

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Sesame Cilantro Pasta Salad

During hard financial times it is often easy to get discouraged. When you no longer have the money to go out and it can leave you feeling isolated as you opt to stay in more and not hang out with friends because you don’t like to be reminded about the things you can’t do because of money. But it doesn’t have to be like that, in fact it is times like this that should bring us all a lot closer together. One great way to save money and still enjoy your relationships is to plan a family/friend potluck BBQ. Have everyone bring their own meat and a side dish and plan a meeting place. If you have a large enough space in your garden plan it there, if not find a local park with picnic tables and BBQ pits. You can even plan different lawn games to make sure kids and adults alike have fun things to do without spending a lot of money. Getting together for a potluck saves money by having everyone chip in the cost of a meal out and it provides a much needed social time for families and friends.

There is a wonderful abundance of cheap, delicious potluck ideas out there on blogs and recipe sites you can find suggestions from Celebrity Chef’s like Bobby Flay’s Honey-Rum Baked Beans or Jamie Oliver’s Pasta Salad. But by far my favorite is a recipe is one that I found from Allrecipe.com, I altered it slightly to fit my taste and this dish has become a standard that has people asking for the recipe every time.


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