An Indian Meal in Paris – Easy Tadka Dal & Okra (Bhindi) Fry

We are in Paris for the month of June. During the first couple of days of exploring the city, we happened to be around the Indian quarter – a vibrant part of town choc-a-bloc with Indian eateries and stores rubbing shoulders with Middle Eastern and African joints reflecting the true cosmopolitan nature of this lovely city. While looking around a well stocked spice store, I couldn’t resist getting a few Indian spices and some okra. Okra or any other seasonal vegetable cooked with onions and spices are staple dishes back home. A simple and reliable side dish – something I’ve missed for a very long time.

fresh okra

That’s how the first meal I cooked here in our little rental apartment’s kitchen turned out to be one with Indian flavours. And I can now fully appreciate the challenges of working in a tiny Parisian kitchen!

In spite of the challenges, we managed to have a lovely simple dinner of some dal (lentils) along with the okra dish served with rice and some store bought naan. It was just perfect.

indian dal with naan

Tadka Dal – Lentil Curry

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

250g yellow lentils – this can be any kind, the only thing that varies is the cooking time. Some lentils cook faster than others.

3-4 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 dried whole red chillies

1 medium onion finely chopped

1-2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed

1 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp chilli powder – can be adjusted to taste

2 medium tomatoes chopped

salt to taste

Method

Place the lentils in a large pan. Add enough water to cover the lentils and cook until they are tender and almost disintegrated. This takes about 20-25 minutes depending on the kind of lentils you’re using. A pressure cooker can also be used to cut down on cooking time. Once the lentils are cooked, drain them saving a bit of the cooking liquid and set aside.

how to make dal

lentil curry

In a frying pan (big enough to hold the lentils) or a wok, heat the oil. Add the cumin seeds and dry chillies. Once the seeds begin to fry and splutter, add the onions. Saute until they’re soft. Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. Lower the heat to a simmer, add the turmeric and chilli powders. Mix everything and cook for about 2-3 minutes until the spices are cooked and do not smell raw anymore. Increase the heat to medium, add the tomatoes and cook until they’re nice and soft.

Add the cooked lentils to the pan. Season with salt and let it bubble for a few minutes. It’s now ready to serve. You may use fresh coriander leaves to garnish the dish before serving.

easy lentil curry

Okra (Bhindi) Fry

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

3-4 tbsp sunflower oil

1 small onion finely chopped

1-2 cloves garlic peeled and chopped

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp coriander powder

400g okra cleaned, topped, tailed and chopped crosswise into rounds

Method

In a large frying pan, heat the oil. Add the onion and saute until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Lower the heat and add the spice powders.

fresh okra

Once the spices are cooked through (about 2-3 minutes), add the okra and mix everything through. Season with salt. Let the okra cook through on a medium-low heat until they start turning crispy around the edges and the sliminess disappears, stirring it often.

spiced okra

indian spiced okra

Serve it warm along with the dal to accompany rice and/or naan or roti for a wholesome, light supper.

This recipe can be adapted to be used with any firm vegetable such as aubergines, cauliflower, broccoli, etc and will yield a great side dish to add to your Indian dinner. Enjoy!

indian dinner

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