Sunday, April 15, 2007

From the Middle East, dal... with a twist!

(After creating the above title, I'm now envisioning a dal-tini with a twist of lemon pressed into it. As much as I love dal, I think the dal-tini idea... isn't that good. Though you're welcome to try it.)

Continuing my culinary explorations, and perhaps as an antidote to this earlier post, tonight I made Madhur Jaffrey's Lentils, Gingery Spinach, and Yogurt from World Vegetarian.

It's Middle Eastern, and although I don't know the details of why one area of the world would make lentils one way and another area another, it called for dal without cumin. Also without mustard seed, fenugreek, asefoetida, or any of the other spices I have put into dal in the past. Just garlic, onions, and ground chilies.

The spinach is cooked in ginger and cayenne (and when I pulled a piece out of the pan to taste my eyes lit up with the delightfulness of the combination).

The yogurt is plain, unadorned yogurt.

Here's where the magic begins: after all the ingredients are cooked (except the yogurt, which remains cold), they are layered. The dal goes on the bottom, the spinach next, and the yogurt is spread over the top. Then everything is salted.

Why did I have to wait so long to discover the wonderful taste of warm dal and steaming spinach against cool, tart yogurt? Why did I spend so many years unfreezing burritos and popping open bags of potato chips when I could have been making things like this, which only took thirty minutes start-to-finish?

Oh, food... if it weren't for the fact that Ms. Jaffrey herself already pulled the "I'm a theatre person who decided to change careers and travel the world in search of recipes" thing, I'd so be doing that. On the other hand, if she hadn't done it, I wouldn't be cooking today. So... I suppose it's all right that she got to it first.

No comments: