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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Masoor Dal, North Indian Style

After a 4 hour India therapy, I finally feel like my energized self again...
I'm not sure how to explain the feeling, but these last 2 months, I've been on the road 70% of the time, which is fine because I'm lucky enough to have a job that I love, so that working isn't so much of a constraint, but more a way of expressing myself.  Don't get me wrong.. there are stressful moments, ups and downs, and sometimes unexpected homework, but overall when I'm out of town for business, I'm a crazy tourist as well.
That said, there's nothing like the feeling of coming home sweet home.  My life is far from being routine (probably due to the open mind and lack of offense) but there is nothing more comforting than sleeping in your own bed, pooping in your own toilet, wearing your own bathrobe, listening to your own vinyl records on your own sound system, and most of all, cooking in your own kitchen with full access to all the happy places.  Yes they have multiplied to properly adjust to the massive daal collection.
So it's not a big surprise that upon my return, I indulged in all the activities mentioned above, giving special attention to the cooking part, which, I may have previously mentionned, is the best therapy for anything from stress to anger to depression.  For me anyway.  The best part is when I'm feeling like the top of the hill, I equally enjoy it because it makes me feel creative and useful..and oh so very much in love.
I have no idea where I found this recipe, so I can't site it, but I wrote it down a few months ago after coming across masoor dal in Lyon, and integrated it into a thali.  The actual dish doesn't take more than 45 minutes.  The 4 hours is because I did a bunch of different things and not all at the same time.. to make the pleasure last for hours.......
1 cup whole masoor daal, washed then soaked 30-40 minutes, then drained
3-4 cups of water or whey
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 chopped onion
1/2 tsp salt
1 chopped green chili
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp grated garlic
2 chopped tomatoes
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chili powder or to taste
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
chopped cilantro or fresh fenugreek for garnish (I don't have fenugreek yet)
1.  Bring 3 cups water and the dal to a boil, then simmer, partially covered for 30 minutes or until bite tender.
2.  In a wok or tadka, heat the oil, then add the onions and cook until translucent, then add salt, approx 5 minutes.
3.  Add the chili, ginger, and garlic and cook until the raw smell goes away, approx 2 minutes.
4,  Add the tomatoes and cook until the mixture becomes mushy.
5.  Add the cumin, turmeric, chili powder, garam masala, and kasoori methi.  Stir to incorporate and cook for another minute or so.
6.  Add the mixture to the dal.  Bring to a boil again, then simmer until ready to serve.  I simmered mine 15 minutes.
7.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Stir in the yogurt, then serve with some chopped cilantro.
Here's my representation...
From the top clockwise:
Lobia Pakoras
Plain Basmati Rice
Sabut Masala Chicken
Masoor Dal North Indian Style

I'm drunk with spicy pleasure...
Each time I cook I learn something new.  I had an epiphany about north Indian style cooking.
They almost always use tomatoes and garam masala and some kind of cream (ghee, cream, or yogurt).
They almost never use whole spices, mostly ground.
There is usually red onion involved, unless it's during fasting.
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