Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Everyone Has A Summer/Dal-icious Dal


"Sitting in the cut, looking classy;
Loungin', sippin' on my mango lassi;
Wearing Stussy, talking sassy;
Not baby--Miss T, if you are nasty."

-Me [don't laugh--nascent emcee Toni is getting ready to drop her new scorchingly hot single "Too Mad To Mack"] :)

So, my dear friends, it has been a while, no? It has not been for lack of material to write about--more that I have been busy...sadly, just busy ruminating [wow, so exciting, I know] and being a regular ruminant human--i.e. chewing a lot. I get made fun of a lot for my huge appetite but hey, I am just a healthy Eastern European girl, you see.

Summer has an ethos far broader than hot temperatures, BBQs, and vacations. "Everyone has a summer" just reminds me that everyone has that one magic moment, really. A day in the sun, if you will. It's not the moment where you get something you want and come out on top...the one that makes your heart light up like the fireflies in the night. So, remember--you will always have a summer, even in the dead of winter, sometime.

So, remember all the hoopla over the Royal Wedding? Wasn't quite blood and circuses [pfft, we are far more "civilized" than the Romans...right?], more like pomp and circumstance, but it shows that people sure do have an undeniable need for public rites/performances. It is an archetypal part of the human fabric...and what it got me to thinking is that we should treat all people in our lives like kings and queens. All that "I get by with a little help from my friends" business--it always amazes me that people are not appropriately humbled by how amazing it is to have people around you to spend time with. So, this is not so much for me get me on my soap box and enlighten you [ha!]--I am just sharing that every time I go to a potluck, I feel like I went to the Royal Wedding. Minus the cool hats :)

So many moons ago, I was invited to two Indian potlucks in one day. Now, harken here. Dear white people, putting curry powder in something does not make it Indian. No, seriously! You should probably not even call it "curried" anything. Believe me, I can say this as an "honorary Desi." I made dal and potato curry.









I

Toor Dal

1C toor dal [soaked at least overnight! *crucial*-aids in digestion and answers the question why Indians never have gas :)]
mustard seeds
1 tomato, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
onion [1/2 large onion, finely diced--white or red is fine, yellow not so much]
turmeric
red chili powder

Soak the dal, keep changing the water at least a couple of times, drain the water and put the dal with some water in a pressure cooker [if you do not have one, just use a pot, but the cooking time will be longer]. Add 1 tsp. of turmeric and 3 teaspoons of chili powder in with the dal and cook it until quite, quite well-cooked [almost to a mushy consistency but the taste should not be mushy]. Be careful with the cooking time as you neither want to undercook nor overcook--in pressure cooker, maximum 5-6 mins., otherwise maybe 15-20 or so.
In a pan, heat up some oil, add the mustard seeds and make certain they open fully or else they will be bitter--you will hear a popping sound as they start to open up and their color will go from brown to black and they will grow a bit in size. Add the finely-chopped onion and the finely chopped garlic. Saute on medium heat until cooked through and soft. Towards the end, add the chopped tomato but do not cook it too much. Add this "tadka" [a cooking technique name so you can get edumacated!] to the now-cooked dal. Salt as desired. You could finish it off with some fresh-squeezed lime or lemon.

Toni's Insane Amount of Work Rasam-Dal Hybrid [get Madhur Jaffrey's kitchen minions to help you here because, apparently, I like to work a LOT and wash a lot of dishes]


I invented this one because it tasted good--it is a bit of a hybrid of a dal and rasam, but it tastes really good. Took eons to perfect but money now.

1C masoor dal=red lentils [soaked at least overnight!]
mustard seeds
cumin seeds
1 tomato, chopped
3 cloves, finely chopped
onion [1/2 large onion, finely diced--white or red is fine, yellow not so much]
turmeric
red chili powder
ginger [about 1 inch piece, very finely diced]
corriander powder
cumin powder
garam masala
cilantro, chopped
tamarind pulp [can be found in most Asian stores--looks like a block of compressed tamarind]

Soak the dal, keep changing the water at least a couple of times, drain the water and put the dal with some water in a pressure cooker [if you do not have one, just use a pot, but the cooking time will be longer]. Add 1 tsp. of turmeric and 3 teaspoons of chili powder in with the dal and cook it until quite, quite well-cooked [almost to a mushy consistency but the taste should not be mushy].
In a pan, heat up some oil, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and make certain they open fully or else they will be bitter--you will hear a popping sound from the mustard seeds as they start to open up and their color will go from brown to black and they will grow a bit in size. Add the finely-chopped onion and the finely chopped garlic and finely chopped ginger. Saute on medium heat until cooked through and soft. Also, add a teaspoon of corriander, cumin powder, and a lot less garam masala, to taste=do not go overboard but you are using the heat of the pan to allow the spices to release their flavors. Towards the end, add the chopped tomato, but do not cook it too much. Add this "tadka" to the now-cooked dal. Salt as desired. Break off a one inch piece of the tamarind pulp and put in a little water in the microwave for a minute. Squeeze out the tamarind juice from the rest of the pulp through a sieve and add that to the cooked dal. Chop some fresh cilantro finely and add to the finished and cooled dal.

Now that I have revealed the key to making successful dal, you have no excuse to not be able to make a full Indian dinner! Hold the curry powder!



2 comments:

  1. Being British, I do share your love of Indian food and Madhur Jaffrey. I have a couple of her cooking books.

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