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Vegetarian Indian Recipes from the Langar

Recipes at Sikh Temple Sacramento are made in quantities that serve literally 1,000 people, sometimes more. The following recipes are examples of food typical at the always-vegetarian langar. The following serve about eight people, but make great leftovers with rice and Indian bread. — Elaine Corn

Aloo Matar

(Potatoes and peas)

2 pounds potatoes

2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds

2 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter

2 medium-sized onions, cut into rings

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons fresh ground dried ginger

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 cup water

¾ cup frozen peas

Salt and black pepper

Peel the potatoes and cut them into smallish cubes. In a small skillet, heat the mustard seeds on high heat until they pop. In another large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the ghee (or butter). Add the onions and fry until onions are limp but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add the ginger, turmeric, chili powder, cumin, garam masala and the toasted mustard seeds and potatoes. Fry and stir about 3 minutes. Add water, bring to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, about 20 minutes. Potatoes should be soft, and most of the water should cook away. Add the peas, salt and pepper. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Serve with basmati rice. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


At Sikh Temple Sacramento, many pulses (edible seeds) in the lentil family were used: yellow split peas, black "moth" (pronounced moat) lentils and red lentils.

2 cups lentils

3 ¼ cups water

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter

1 onion, chopped

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons ground cumin

3 cardamom pods

½ teaspoon whole coriander seed

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Sort the lentils and wash several times. Place in a pot with salted water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, partially covered, 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the ghee or butter in a wide skillet. Add onion and fry until pale brown, about 10 minutes. Add turmeric, cumin, cardamom, coriander seed and tomato paste. Fry 30 seconds or so. Mixture should be thick. Transfer spice mixture out of the skillet and into the pot with the lentils. Stir to combine, and simmer about 5 minutes more. Thin with more water if too thick. Lentils should be somewhat soupy. Serve with rice and chapattis. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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