Cooking with my international family at Lycoming College
Sohini, an international student from India at Lycoming College in Pennsylvania, missed food from home. So she started cooking it for herself, and then she started sharing it with her friends.
Among the many recipes that the Indian cuisine offers, two famous dishes are Dum Aloo and Jeera Dal — both favorites of international students at Lycoming College.
Dum Aloo is a recipe native to the area of Kashmir and is traditionally eaten during special occasions such as weddings, celebrations, or festivals. The dish consists of steamed potatoes in a spicy onion tomato and yogurt gravy slow-cooked in a pot.
On the other hand, Jeera Dal is one of many curries that make up any modern Indian meal. Dal preparations vary in thickness, creaminess and flavor around India. The combination of dal and rice is popular because it’s nutritious and tasty.
“[The cooking group] is one of my ways of showing my friends that I’m here for you and I care for you,” said Lycoming College student Sohini of India. “It feels like family. It is my family... I have found my group of people that I can say are there for me.”
• 8 baby potatoes (aloo)
• 2 cups water (or as required)
• ½ tsp salt
• 4 tbsp oil
• 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
• ½ tsp turmeric
For masala paste / gravy:
• 1 inch cinnamon stick (dalchini)
• 3 cloves
• 2 cardamom (elachi)
• ½ onion (thinly sliced)
• ¾ tsp ginger-garlic paste
• 1 large tomato (finely chopped)
• 10 cashews
For dum aloo:
• 1 tsp oil
• ¾ tsp jeera / cumin seeds
• 1 - 1½ tsp chilli powder (adjust to your spice level)
• ¼ tsp turmeric powder
• ¾ tsp coriander powder
• Salt to taste
• ¼ tsp cumin powder / jeera powder (optional)
• ¼ cup yogurt
• 1 tsp kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
• ¾ - 1 cup water (adjust to required consistency)
• Cilantro leaves (a few, finely chopped)
1. In a kadai (a deep-sided, flat-bottomed pan), add 1 tsp of oil along with cumin seeds.
2. Once they splutter, add prepared masala paste and fry for 5-6 minutes.
3. Now add spices like chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, and salt to taste.
4. Continue to fry till oil separates.
5. Turn the flame to low and add yogurt. Give it a good mix.
6. Add 1 cup of water or as required to adjust the consistency.
7. Finally, add fried aloo (potatoes) and cook for 20 minutes.
8. Lastly add some crushed kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves).
9. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with rice, chapathi (unleavened flatbread), or naan (leavened flatbread).
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
• ½ cup of moong dal (split green mung bean)
• Pinch of turmeric powder
• 2″ piece of of ginger, chopped
• 3-4 dry red chillies, torn into halves
• 1 tbsp ghee or oil
• 1 tsp of jeera (cumin seeds)
• ¼ tsp of asafoetida
• Salt to taste
• Cilantro leaves, chopped, for garnish (optional)
1. Pressure cook the moong dal with turmeric powder and enough water to cover it for 3-4 whistles on the pressure cooker (9-12 minutes). Mash the cooked dal until creamy and set aside. I use my immersion blender to puree dal for dal recipes. Makes the job super easy!
2. Heat the ghee or oil in a pan and add the cumin and red chillies. Fry until the cumin turns golden and the chillies turn almost black (take care not to burn them). Remove from fire and add the asafoetida and ginger. Sauté until the ginger wilts in the heat and dunk the entire mixture into the dal. Add salt and chopped cilantro leaves.
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