this CSA is rotting my teeth and I found dal

February 22nd, 2010

We’ve had giant heaping bags of spinach every week this past month and two weeks of arugula from our CSA which have outworn their welcome on our Friday pizzas. In an effort to work through all those greens, we’ve been on a salad kick. Really, disappointed with the prospect of a raw spinach salad, I discovered the wonders of candied walnuts which don’t go so well with wilted spinach, but oh my, toss them on the greens of choice with a little citrus or pear or pluot and I’ve found a new addiction! (For the unenlightened: toast a cup of walnuts under the broiler until they turn slightly golden and aromatic WHILE you bring 1/2 c of sugar to a boil on the stove- it should be just amber. Toss the nuts plus 1/2 tsp salt in the molten sugar. Voila!) The best thing is that my kids haven’t figured out these are candy. More for me!

In other foodie news, when I traveled to India for the first time several years ago, I discovered real Indian food. Sure, I’d had the americanized version in the states many times, but by comparison, our imitation is more a parody of the real thing. Theirs was incredible! Needless to say, I ate all that I could on that trip and resolved to learn how to make it myself. Unfortunately, my husband is not a fan and my children have gringo palates (Sylvie complained about the heat of her barbecue sauce, yesterday), so I haven’t made much progress. Until today.

I came home from work to find *The Vegetarian Epicure* by Anna Thomas on my doorstep. (Thanks, Mom!) Paging through it I found that Baco-bits are vegetarian and ran across a recipe for dal. Figuring if any American had figured out how to replicate real Indian dal, it would probably be that ole hippie, Anna, I attempted her recipe, tonight, with channa dal I had sitting around. The verdict: with a few tweaks, it passes.

Dal (revised to taste more like the real dal)
1.5 c moong or urad or channa dal or yellow split peas
4 c water
1 tsp sat
Wash the dal then bring the dal + water + salt to a boil. Stir often and cook until the dal becomes soft. You may need to add more water depending on the freshness of your dal.

3 Tbs butter or ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground tumeric
1/2 inch cinnamon stick
1 tsp cayenne (it isn’t authentic unless you sniffle at first bite)
1/4 tsp ground ginger (1 knuckle grated fresh is best!)
1/4 tsp ground coriander (or 1/2 tsp coriander seed)
1/2 tsp mustard seed
6 whole cloves
Heat the butter/ghee until it bubbles. Add the spices and toast for a few minutes until aromatic. Add this mixture to your dal. At this point add a cup or so more of water if your dal has cooked dry. Simmer until you have a fairly thick soup. The more you simmer, the deeper the flavors. If you want to make this taste more like what you’d find in Delhi? Prepare this over your charcoal grill. Serve with warm roti/chipati.