We're lucky to have our baby's maternal grandfather visiting! He took a 15-hour direct flight Mumbai-Newark and then connected on down here, getting here before 11a. We were delighted for him to meet our little 2 1/2 - month old baby! He will be with us for something between a month and a half and three months.
My father-in-law ("Baba") is very easy going and enjoys a variety of foods. Still, I wanted to start off easy with him and come up with something that would be a bit familiar. I made it up on the spot as I was cooking, but came up with a reasonable Indian-looking and tasting dinner.
I made a red lentil (I know, it cooks to yellow-green) dhal. I took a yellow crookneck squash and cut it into maybe 3/8" slices, then quartered the slices. I sauteed the slices, along with a medium shallot, diced into cubes maybe 1/4" thick, just for a few minutes till softened; in the last half minute, I added a few pinches of cumin seed. In the meantime, I started the lentils and water in a 1:3 ratio heating, along with a vegan bouillon cube. As this came to a boil, I added the sauteed vegetables and a bit of salt, along with a few small bit of jalapeno pepper, then simmered for about a half hour, covered (the lentils generally take 30-45 minutes, but 30 was quite enough in this dish).
For the main dish, I peeled then cubed an eggplant into fairly small, perhaps 3/8", cubes, and sauteed it in garlic grapeseed oil. Eggplant acts like a sponge, so I had to add some more oil a few times. I let the eggplant go for maybe five minutes till it cooked down and was gently browning. I then added a bit of jalapeno and about a half of a medium red onion, cut into a medium (3/8" or so) dice. A few minutes later, I took a quarter cabbage head, removed with a "V"-shape cut the white solid core, and cut the cabbage into strips maybe 1/2" x 2 1/2". I added the cabbage as well as a quarter bell pepper cut into medium chunks. A few minutes later, I added maybe 2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped yellow onion to give the dish an extra kick, as well as bits of salt, and both chili powder and hot red pepper flakes. A minute or so later, I added a little cumin seed and a few pinches of my wife's Mom's homemade garam masala (one could just add turmeric), then about 3 ounces of water. I let the water cook into the vegetables on a simmer for a few minutes.
I heated some prepared fenugreek-leaf stuffed parathas, and also included some South Indian lemon pickle. Everybody enjoyed the meal, and it seemed to not be too bland for Baba!