One of the draws for us to stay at Vino's Guesthouse in Bikaner was that the family that runs it offers free cooking demonstrations. They have a short menu of items you can order , and then a window built into the kitchen where you can watch the owner's sister-in-law cook up your dinner or lunch and explain what she's doing. You just pay for what you eat.
We decided to get a demo of dal fry, since it's one of our favorites and ubiquitous on restaurant menus throughout India; alu gobi, curried potato and cabbage ; a local Rajasthani dish we'd never heard of before called dana methi, principally fenugreek; and as a snack, vegetable pakora.
Click on "Read More" to see what we observed. (Forgive me for my lack of technical cooking language!):
Start by washing 1 cup of lentils. Take out any discolored ones. Soak the lentils after washing for about 15 or 20 minutes.
Add two or three cups more water, several tablespoons each of turmeric powder, salt and granulated onion.
Boil in a pressure cooker for about 10 minutes. Then turn down the heat, and release steam. After a few minutes, release all of the steam.
Put ½ cup of oil in a pan with high sides. Fry a teaspoon of whole caraway seeds, a small diced onion and a small diced tomato.
While this is frying, take a star-headed masher (or possibly a food processor or blender!) and mash the lentils. Add more water if necessary.
Mash a clove of garlic with a mortar and pestle, add some boiling water to the mash and then combine this and the lentils with the frying tomatoes, onions and caraway. Fry over low flame for less than one minute.
Add chilli powder and salt to taste.
Take one cup of dry fenugreek seeds and add to water in a pressure cooker. Cook on low heat for 10 minutes, release steam and reseal. After two minutes, repeat releasing steam. Then remove from heat and let sit until it's cool enough to touch. Rinse it.
While the fenugreek is sitting, dice and fry three small tomatoes. Fry them with the fenugreek.
Add some salt and turmeric powder. Stir.
Add a small bowl of curd (plain yoghurt).
Add water until the mixture thins.
Add chilli powder and coriander seeds.
Add a crushed popadom ( plain tortilla chips might work)
Cook this a half minute more.
Boil and peel two small potatoes. Dice them.
Cut half a small head of cabbage into thin strips about the width of a pencil.
Fry the cabbage in a cup of oil with a spoon of whole caraway until the cabbage is fully cooked.
Add water to the cabbage and oil and bring to a boil.
Add a spoonful each of coriander powder and chili powder.
After this has boiled for three or four minutes, add a diced, boiled potato and stir.
Pre-boil potatoes and slice them thinly once cooled. Slice onions to chunky rounds.
Make a batter of chickpea flour, salt, water, chili powder and turmeric.
Dip the vegetables in the batter and fry them in hot oil. Flip them after a minute or so and drain well once removed from the oil.