Posted 8th September 2008
We’re off to Tuscany. To a villa with a pool. With seven friends. The plans sounded pretty relaxing until the words “professional” and “cook” got mentioned in an email trail. About me.
I went into panic mode. The expectations were high. What would I do without a cupboard bursting with spices? No kitchen gadgets? Or easy telephone access to mother?
Then I tried her sublime Dal – soft and smooth, buttery red lentils. Amazingly, she’d cooked it using only asafoetida, chilli and turmeric powder. The most delicious and simplest Dal recipe yet!
I am feeling inspired about creating a Indian feast with the most minimal of ingredients in Tuscany. I’ll take a few spices to be on the safe side but try and source as many ingredients locally as possible.
Wish me luck. I’ll need it to keep hold of those friends.
Wash the lentils throughly under a cold tap until the water runs clear. In a pot add the lentils, mix in the turmeric and pour in double the amount of cold water. Bring this to boil on a high flame.
As the lentils boil, scum and foam will rise to top. Just skim this off and chuck it. Keep adding half a cup of hot water every time the lentils dry up to help them cook and integrate well with the liquid.
If you add lots of water in one go, you’ll get a runny dal that won’t do this justice. When the lentils start resembling a thick, fibrous soup make the tarka or tempering.
In a little pot, bring the ghee to heat on a high flame. When it’s hot, add the asafoetida and the chilli powder. As it sizzle up, stir this into the lentils. Add salt according to your preference and enjoy with Methi Murgh or simply chilli pickle and rice.