Standing out

Mallika Basu - Standing out

Posted 20th April 2007

img_6263-sm.jpgFor all this talk about drinking and dancing, some of my favourite evenings are the really quiet ones with good friends and great food.

Take yesterday, for example. My good Russian friend from our youthful university days has just splashed out on a film projector and surround sound audio system. Hubby picked me and another friend up after work and we drove down for a very exclusive home cinema experience.

At dinner before the film started, my friend’s flatmate revealed that he makes curry powder from scratch. And that he’s just perfected his special dal recipe.

Blimey… the guy was beginning to give me a complex!

During the gory, black comedy that ensued on a giganormous wall, I racked my brains for a dal recipe that would fox him. I remembered the cholar dal or channa (Bengal gram), which I cooked at Friday’s dinner party.

This dal is eaten on special occasions in Bengal like weddings. It is traditionally served with luchi – light, fluffy, flaky little Indian breads. These are called pooris in the North of India.

As with a lot of other Bengali dishes, the dal has a hint of sweetness and is best enjoyed piping hot.

This one’s for Dave. A wise man once said, when you think you know all life’s answers, someone changes the questions. True, how true.

Serves 4:

250 gm channa lentils
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric powder
Half tsp chilli powder
Half tsp cumin powder
Half tsp coriander powder
Half tsp sugar
1 green chilli
2 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp shredded coconut (I used freshly diced ones)
2 tbsp ghee
Salt to taste

Wash the dal thoroughly. Add it with three times as much cold water and bring it to the boil.

Then add the garam masala, cumin, coriander, turmeric powders and the sugar and boil until the lentils are soft to the touch but still intact. You can pressure cook this for 15 minutes after the first whistle.

Now mash up some lentils in the pot to thicken the mixture. In a seperate little pot, heat the ghee and when hot add the shredded coconut bits, the garam masala and chilli powders and the green chilli.

Fry for a minute and then add to the lentils along with the raisins. Voila!

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