So last week

Mallika Basu - So last week

Posted 5th March 2007

punjabi-dhal.jpgThe highlight of last week was getting a lift home in my boss’s new Aston Martin DB7. He zoomed down South London’s mean streets, complete with a red tie, bespoke suit and white hanky. Part James Bond, part South American drug lord. Very impressive either way.

Another highlight was finding a little treasure of a Punjabi restaurant in Covent Garden. My friend from Milan stopped in London briefly and we arranged to meet for dinner. She wanted good Asian food, i.e. an Indian.

My curry-loving colleague suggested Punjab, a good food, no-frills north Indian restaurant in Covent Garden. And he did me proud. The food was superb. Very authentic. Very tasty. And quite spicy – the way it would have been served in a dhaba in Delhi.

We ate kali dhal, saag gosht, tandoori chicken and baingan. The waiter suggested we were ordering too much and he was right. But we ate it all anyway. It brought back memories of long winter holidays at my mother’s relatives in Delhi. They are all Dilli-walehs or Delhi-ites as we call them and the food they cooked was always to die for.

They made a very wholesome dhal (lentils) with lots of veggies that we kids ate with rotis and yoghurt. The recipe is very simple and you can add carrots, peas and spinach to make it even more healthy. I use a little spoon of ghee to give it a buttery flavour, but you could use butter or just oil.

I’m hoping someone in Milan will be cooking this for herself and her gorgeous hubby and beautiful baby soon.

This recipe serves four:

250 gm huskless mung lentils
1 tomato, chopped roughy
200 gm of fresh spinach washed, or three cubes of frozen spinach
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
Half inch ginger, chopped fine
Half tsp turmeric powder
Half tsp chilli powder
1 dry whole red chilli
Salt to taste
1 tbsp ghee/butter/oil

Wash the lentils under cold water until the water runs dry. Add twice as much water as lentils to a pot, mix in the turmeric and bring to boil on a high flame.

When the water is boiling, lower the heat and continue to cook on a medium flame.

In another smaller pot, heat the oil and add the whole red chilli. Then fry the ginger and garlic until brown and add the tomato and chilli powder. Keep stirring until the tomatoes disintegrate.

Mix this tomato mixture in to the lentils. Add the spinach. Stir well and leave the lentils to cook. If it starts drying up, add more hot water.

The lentils are done when you can’t see the individual grains, and just have a thick soupy texture. Add salt to taste and serve hot.

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