Leaving Flavors in My Heart
New people show up, settle in, we spend a few years together as friends, then they must move on. But everyone leaves things behind: 220v electrical doodads, half-used cleaning supplies, but especially kitchen goodies. Italy’s strongest values are centered on relationships and food. Like useful gifts which remind me of the giver every time I use them, working my way through seasonings and opened bottles of stuff I’ve never seen puts those friends before my mind’s eye again.
One particular friend sheltered me in her home one weekend as the man and I needed a little time not quite so much in one another’s pocket. There was nothing wrong, as you can read here. Everyone just deserves his own space now and then. While I was there, she taught me how to do some Indian cooking. Which was very nice, since she is Indian. Now I have several of her recipes, which are delicious, and whenever I make them, I think of her & that weekend. Eating her food makes one friend feel just a little bit closer.
While it won’t be quite the same for you ~unless you, too, know Sahitya~ I’m going to share the recipe I make most often because it is both easy and wonderful. It calls for curry leaves. This is a particular plant native to south asia, not at all related to the mixed spice powder generically known as “curry.” The foodies will all tell you that if you can’t find fresh leaves, hang it all for a bad job and make something else. Pshaw! Get the dried ones, use a little more, and it will be better than not having this dish at all.
Without further ado,
Sahitya’s Dal !
- Wash and soak 1/2 cup lentils in salty water for at least 1/2 hour. Rinse well.
- In a pan, take 2 tablespoons of oil (sunflower/vegetable) and let it heat.
- Once hot, add 1 teaspoon of seasoning (cumin seeds & black mustard seeds) and 1 red chili until they are fragrant and popping.
- Add a few curry leaves and 1 large tomato, finely chopped.
- Whilst the tomato is cooking, add 1 teaspoon of salt, a pinch of tumeric and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder.
- Once the tomatoes are cooked and soft, add the soaked lentils with enough water to cover them.
- Turn the heat to slow, and put the lid on the pan.
- Check occasionally to ensure there is enough water.
- Cook till the dal is soft, do a taste check here to add any salt if necessary.
- Garnish with cilantro
- Serve hot with rice!
I have been known to add chopped greens along with the lentils for further nutritive value, bumping up the seasoning to compensate. Good stuff.
Miss you, lady.