Dal with Curried Red Onion Jam

Like many enthusiastic cooks, I have a bit of a cookbook collection. Some books I use mostly for reference, some I keep only out of nostalgia (or, more embarrassingly, because hey-I-might-need-THAT-Sri-Lankan-recipe-someday!), and others are in heavy rotation.  Also, I just love books in general.  I always have a cookbook or two on my bedside table, which I occasionally read as bedtime stories.  But the cookbooks I like most are the ones that inspire me to branch out in my preparations of the humble vegetable.

I think I have mentioned before that Seattle is graced with five months of springtime, which means greens galore in the garden.  Arugula, chard, kale.  Radishes, turnips, peas.  Repeat.  Springtime all the way through until August, when we may (or may not) see a little flourish of zucchini and cherry tomatoes to end the growing season.  We belong to a couple of CSAs to fill in the gaps.  So I’m always looking for ideas to churn through the produce while keeping both the cooking and the eating enjoyable around here.

This year I am going to be brandishing a new cookbook in the kitchen.  I just got my copy of Ripe today and I’m smitten.  It’s an homage to fruits and vegetables as much as a cookbook, really.  It’s written by Cheryl Sternman Rule, the witty and eloquent voice behind the 5 second rule blog (she’s the one who brought that Quick Whole Wheat Spice Bread with Brown Sugar, Orange Zest, and Walnuts into our lives, bless her heart).  It’s gorgeously photographed (click here to see some of the pretty pictures).  Each fruit and vegetable gets a few pages: a glam shot, a few irresistible descriptive paragraphs, a featured recipe and a few “un-recipes”–my favorite part, of course–such as this one for carrot salad: “wide carrot ribbons + harissa + yogurt + green olives + parsley.”  Yes!

And if the first recipe I tried is any indication, the flavors pop as brightly as the colors in this book.  A simple gingery dal, a plain pot of brown rice, diced red onion jewels glinting at first in the wide pan, then melting into a sweet and tangy and black-pepper-spiced chutney that transported us to some mad place where we wished winter weren’t so close to over.  Oh, well, I’m looking forward to trying the radish recipes.Dal with Curried Red Onion Jam:  First warm 2 Tb. butter and 1 Tb. olive oil over medium heat in a wide pan.  Add 3 diced red onions, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper.  Stir occasionally until translucent, about 10 minutes, then stir in 1/3 c. dark brown sugar, 1 Tb. curry powder, and 1/4 c. cider vinegar.  Simmer for a moment, then reduce heat to low and cook until jammy, 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, make a pot of brown rice using one part rice to two parts water plus a pinch of salt.  Bring rice to a boil then simmer 40 minutes, remove from heat and leave covered until ready to serve.  And at the same time, make your dal using 2 c. sorted and rinsed red lentils, 7 c. water, 2 Tb. minced or grated ginger (I use my Microplane), a small fresh chile or dried chile flakes to taste, and 2 star anise pods if you have them (I didn’t).  Bring everything to a boil then simmer uncovered 30-40 mins, stirring occasionally and adding 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and 3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper halfway through.  When the lentils are completely soft, remove them from the heat, taste and adjust seasonings and discard the star anise.  Serve rice topped with dal and a big spoonful of the onion jam.

Here’s the big question, though: what kind of a grilled cheese sandwich am I going to make to use up my leftover onion jam?  Sourdough with Gruyere?  Rye and chevre?  Help me out here, friends.

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21 thoughts on “Dal with Curried Red Onion Jam

  1. VogueVegetarian

    What a great post and I am glad I am not the only one with cookbooks on my bedside table that are used as reading material. I have not heard of Cheryl Sternman before but I thank you for linking me to her blog and cookbook. I already ordered my own copy on amazon a few moments ago. It’s a great display book for my kitchen counter. I find I like to swap those out every few weeks and this one will make a colorful addition. Cheryl has a book signing in Seattle in June. I put it on my calendar and if you stop by as well, perhaps we shall meet. In either case, thanks for the recipe and inspiration!

    Reply
    1. emmycooks Post author

      I am completely delinquent in responding to comments but I want you to know that I have thought of this one several times looking around my kitchen lately. I LOVE that you keep a display book on your counter. Often I can’t even SEE my counters! I can only aspire to have counters so clear that you’d notice one cookbook. :) (And this is a gorgeous one, so colorful!) I would love to say hello at the book signing, is it at Book Larder? I feel like I might have seen that on Twitter. I haven’t been there but am so excited to check it out.

      Reply
      1. VogueVegetarian

        Yes, it’s at Book Larder. I got my copy of Ripe… haven’t had time to look through it in detail yet but oh, it is so beautiful! Again, thanks for the recommendation. And don’t worry about the counters… that’s a sign of a true chef! Spending all your time cooking makes it so you just cant put stuff away. Once you put it away, you have to take it back out again so heck, just leave it out! :)

  2. Sarah

    Thank you for the tip about the book and the blog, I’ve never heard of either, so I’m excited to get to know them. :) Your Dal recipe looks wonderful! And i can’t wait to try the curried red jam. It’s early, but now you’ve made me hungry :) Thank you for the inspiration today!

    Reply
    1. emmycooks Post author

      I hope you did try it! So good. I finished the last of the onion jam today and I am thinking I will make another batch of the jam to use elsewhere. It got spicier as the week went on. Yum!

      Reply
    1. emmycooks Post author

      What are your favorite vegan cookbooks? Do you like how I’m always picking your brain for vegan tips? I think it’s because I know I should cut back on dairy but haven’t committed yet and think it’s a scary leap. :)

      Reply
    1. emmycooks Post author

      I agree! Usually I don’t like to have to use three pots, but I can deal with unattended rice and lentils while I pay attention to one pan of veggies and spices. :)

      Reply
  3. {Main St. Cuisine}

    I’m one of those cookbook on the nightstand type of gals too! Good to know there’s more of us out there. This sounds like a beautiful book. I do love when the simple onion gets reduced down to a sweet jammy consistency.

    Reply
    1. emmycooks Post author

      What are your favorite reading cookbooks? I love the Zuni Cafe cookbook, and also find myself entertained by Melissa Clark’s cookbooks (sometimes because of her stories and sometimes because I wonder why a cookbook contains information that I might consider more personal). :)

      Reply
    1. emmycooks Post author

      What are your favorite cookbooks? I always like to find new ones. I am going to have to make more of that onion jam to try all the permutations of grilled cheese sandwiches that would be delicious with it. :)

      Reply
  4. kitchentangents

    Onion jam sounds lovely! I’m a bit obsessed with cookbooks too, (I have an entire book shelf dedicated to them in my kitchen which needs its seams let out) and recently got Nigel Slater’s, “Tender,” a beautiful book which sounds similar to “Ripe,” only about vegetables. He also has a set with both fruit and vegetable volumes that I want to get. I also just got “Chez Panisse Vegetables,” and “Chez Panisse Fruit,” both lovely! I’ll have to check out “Ripe.”

    Reply

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