I haven’t been ‘round these parts lately. I could say it was because I had a technical problem with my Blog (true but not the reason). I could say it was because I was swamped with work (true but not the reason). The real truth is – I fell a little out of love with cooking.
I love cooking – reading recipes, designing my own, building up my spice and herb collection in anticipation of a new dish. I am a cooking nerd. While I often listened empathetically to women who say they hate cooking or would happily live on a diet of dried food and vitamin pills, I simply couldn’t get it.
Now I do.
With all the work, planning meals became a burden. I began to resent cooking. It became a necessity rather than an activity. I like to make everything from scratch but those days, reaching for a menu for what we affectionately refer to as ‘The Man with the Van’ became all too tempting. You order, it’s delivered, you eat, you feel guilty – what a pattern! The freezer was stocked and the veg drawer was laden with goodies but the notion of cooking made me feel so ‘meh!’
In the midst of this culinary downturn, I invited the girlies to my home for a long overdue lunch. When I set about thinking of cooking for others, I fell back in love with food all over again. For me, that notion of sharing with others remains at the heart of all my cooking. After seeing cooking as a temporary burden, I am even more appreciative of what motivates me now.
As there was a mix of vegetarians and meat eaters, I opted for Indian food which they all love. I made my list of dishes but the Teen swapped them around! Instead of chicken, she replaced it with a beef curry dish she loves and she added her all time comfort food to the list – Daal. The other dishes were Saag Aloo and Aloo Ghobi. The girlies happily feasted on all the dishes, drank some wine and chatted. Happy days!
The Daal I make is a mix of a number of recipes I’ve tried over the years – keeping the nicest bits from each. The Teen has declared this to be the winner!
1 chilli, deseeded and chopped finely
Handful of ripe cherry tomatoes
1 cup finely chopped red onion
5 ounces split pea lentils, washed
5 ounces red lentils, washed
1 ounce unsalted butter (omit if vegan)
2 tablespoons sunflower oil (increase to 3 tablespoons if omitting the butter)
Piece of ginger (about the size of an adult thumb), peeled and chopped finely
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped finely
1 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
1½ teaspoon ground coriander
Salt and pepper
Cayenne pepper, optional
Fresh coriander, chopped
Natural yoghurt, optional
1. Cover the lentils with water and simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on (may need to add water as they cook)
2. Melt the butter with the oil (or heat only oil) and fry the cumin seeds for about a minute
3. Add onion, chopped chilli and ginger cooking until onion is soft
4. Add the rest of the spices and cook for about a minute
5. Add the chopped tomatoes and garlic
6. Cook this mixture for about 10 minutes
7. Add to the cooked lentils
8. Add salt and pepper
9. If prefer a spicier taste, add a pinch of Cayenne Pepper
10. This can be served immediately with some freshly chopped coriander
We prefer to let it sit for a while so the spices settle in the lentils and then reheat before serving, adding water as necessary
This can be served as a side dish or in a bowl. Or it can be eaten with a dollop of natural yoghurt and a naan bread which is just how I like it!