Friday, February 2, 2007

Cabbage with Yogurt and Urad Dal

A special surprise came in my inbox today. Madhur Jaffrey's World-Of-The-East Vegetarian Cooking was waiting for me at the library. Hooray for inter-library loan!

Right now I have two other Jaffrey cookbooks in my arsenal -- Climbing the Mango Trees and Quick and Easy Indian Cooking. However, these only have a limited number of vegetarian recipes. (I'm what Michael Pollan calls a "flexitarian" -- a person who will eat meat but prefers vegetarian options when available. Actually, the truth is that as a graduate student I'm too poor to afford to buy much meat.)

So getting World-Of-The-East was just tantalizingly exciting. Especially since I had half a head of cabbage in my refrigerator, begging to be cooked.

I made two dishes this evening: cabbage with yogurt, and kali dal (the latter being from Climbing the Mango Trees). Both featured urad dal, although in the cabbage recipe there are just a few of the lentils thrown in for crunch and a little flavor. This was the first time I had cooked with any dal that wasn't masoor, and was surprised at its heaviness.

The cabbage recipe was excellent. I couldn't find any coconut at Namaste Grocery, and didn't want to drive all the way out to Meijer to get some, so I left it out. I got to use mustard seeds for the first time, and as soon as I put them in the oil the entire apartment filled with a lovely warm smell... I used less oil than suggested because I don't like oily cabbage, and it still turned out fine. The yogurt added an interesting tartness.

The kali dal was less successful. Probably because I ended up with the wrong form of urad dal. I was supposed to use whole urad dal, and I brought home split dal. It's still quite edible and reasonably tasty, but very heavy. I can see myself taking small portions of this dal to campus with me for two weeks because it's not the kind of food one wants to eat a lot of at any one time.

Still, an overall success, and enough to eat for tomorrow.

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