Making better Dhal

One of my lovely daughters is a veggie and has been for a couple of years now. I never thought she’d last more than a week without a pork sausage but I was proved wrong. She still eats a lot of sausages but they’re now of the Quorn variety (yuk).

I digress, what I wanted to say was about cooking dhal. Veggie daughter is rather partial to dhal so when we have curry for dinner she often has dhal and rice. I always used to make this in a kind of 1-pan-wonder method; fry some onion and garlic, add ground cumin and coriander seeds and some ground turmeric. Stir in a cup of red lentils and a pint or so of veggie stock and leave to simmer for half an hour or more. But today I was getting ahead and cooked the curry and dhal just after lunch as they both improve if left to sit for a while. But after making the curry I’d ran out of coriander and garlic so I just fried a finely chopped onion in some butter and added the lentils and stock and left them to simmer while I walked up the shops.

The Shops
I could have nipped to Sainsbury’s supermarket which is 5 minutes walk from our house but like most UK supermarkets it’s horrible. Don;t get me wrong the food is fine and they generally have most of what you want its just the shopping experience is so depressing. The worst bit is the recently introduced self-service checkouts – you do the checkout bit yourself, you have to listen to the computer droning on about “unknown items in the bagging area” and they don’t even give you a discount. Tch. And they overpay they’re senior management. I read in the papers that the boss of Sainsbury’s got over £3m last year. I don’t see anything  terribly wrong with entrepreneur’s earning lots of money but running a cash-cow business like Sainsbury’s  can’t be all that hard can it? Does one man at the top really make that much difference?
Anyway I walked the other way to the proper shops. Shops run by real people who don’t get £3m. I bought some Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon called Pacifico Sur and two pints of a beer called St George from the best off-licence in the south of England http://www.grapegrain.co.uk/grapegrain/Home.html . Opposite Grape and Grain is an excellent green grocers where I bought some big bulbs of garlic and some very small new potatoes. And finally a couple of doors along from Grape and Grain is an Indian run shop that sells spices and other Indian food stuffs at reasonable prices where I bought ground and whole cumin seeds and some ground coriander seeds and a packet of poppadoms all for not much over £5 and these are decent size bags of spices not the stingy little pots they sell at the supermarkets for such astronomical prices.

Back Home
The dhal was nicely cooked by the time I got back but was looking rather unappetising. It was the colour of the paint I’d used on the stairs earlier in the day (Farrow and Ball’s – White Tie).  I chopped up a couple of large cloves of garlic and fried them in a little butter until just browning then I added a teaspoon of the whole cumin seeds and a heaped teaspoon or so of ground cumin and coriander and some tumeric. Just fry the spices for a half a minute then chuck the whole lot into the dhal and give it a good stir. The colour of the dhal should be much improved and so will the taste.

Picked up veggie daughter from the stables where she was helping out. Drove there in my Yellow and White 2CV6 🙂 . Cooked some basmati rice and fried a couple of the poppadoms in a little hot oil  so madam could have her tea before she had to dash out to the roller disco. She said the dhal was very good and I was to ensure I could reproduce it. She scoffed a bowl full of rice and dhal and said she’d be back for another bowl after the roller skating.

The aforementioned 2CV

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