The last two Fridays, we have had an end of day party at SOPAC, to
celebrate firstly Fiji Day, and then this week, Diwali. Both occasions
were also to farewell staff who are moving on. I like these parties a lot
because they are a great opportunity to try new dishes and to pick the brains
of people who know how to cook. Also because I don’t need to cook for
myself afterwards. There was plenty of food.
I could probably quite happily become vegetarian on Indian cuisine, indeed I
already have 4/7ths done so, having reduced my meat and poultry intake quite
considerably for both convenience and economy, though shamefully not for
health, reasons. I have not bought fish lately, as i am countig on
catching some. Failed miserably again last night. But I digress.
I have become
a great fan of chickpeas and yellow lentil dahl. With plenty of onion and
spice they are very satisfying foods.
weekend just for a change of diet, I made my internationally famous bean salad,
from chickpeas, three cans of assorted borlotti, red and wotsit beans, frozen
sweet corn kernels, green beans, onion, celery and capsicum. I made my own sweet chilli
and lime juice dressing; very tangy and pleasant. This lasted me for
three days of lunches and dinner, by which time I had had quite enough of beans
for a while. In any case it is probably not a cost effective recipe
here, because apart from three cans of beans at well over $2 per, to make it I
had to invest in a bunch of celery and a red capsicum, which was a
paid $12 for Australian celery, (and rounded it up to $20 by adding a single
red Australian capsicum) I was not going to waste the tiniest bit of the
celery. So I first cut the stalks off, washed them and wrapped them
loosely in aluminium foil. This keeps the unused ones well for up to a
couple of weeks in the crisper bin. I don’t recall where I learned that,
but it is so.
had quite a pile of celery leaves, and less attractive but quite edible stalk
off-cuts left. They would probably account for maybe $4 or $5 worth of
the bunch by weight, and I could not face the horror of feeding it all to the
land crabs. Nor could I face eating it in a sandwich or a salad.
Besides I had bean salad. In such circumstances, there is only one
thing to do; make soup! Or in this case, dahl, which seems to me to be
pretty much the same thing, with an Indian accent. As I see it, the
celery in this recipe is merely a substitute for coriander leaves I have seen
in other reipes.
thought this batch of dahl turned out to be an outstanding success – I really
enjoyed it, and thought the recipe was worthy of being recorded so I can look
it up and do it again sometime. Also someone else might like to try
it… So, cobbled together from notes taken at the time – here it is:
made enough for four meals, or, at least, four good helpings….. It freezes
1 cup chickpeas overnight in salted water with a pinch of baking soda.
cup yellow lentils overnight in salted water with a pinch of baking soda.
one cup of each, but I am only guessing. It may well have been more…
rinse and cook the chickpeas in fresh salted water until tender.
cooking the chickpeas, thoroughly rinse the lentils and put aside for a
two large onions in vanaspati (or oil etc) until clear and add the chopped
off-cuts and leaves from a bunch of celery Fry some more.
and lower the heat,
Add salt and ginger
and the following spices:
(paprika) ( I think I
(NOTE – amounts not specified, – I added generous amounts, probably
heaped teaspoonfuls of each, bearing in mind I always use half the amount of cumin
as coriander. Most recipes don’t even mention cumin, but I like it).
add a dash of Worcester sauce, tamarind, or lime juice. (I
AND lime juice).
the lentils, cover to twice the depth with fresh cold water.
vegetable (or chicken) bouillon cube or two and bring to the
boil, stirring regularly. When boiling, turn down the heat and simmer until the
lentils are cooked.
the lentils are done, add coconut cream and return to a simmer, then
throw in 1/3rd of the cooked chickpeas and a teaspoon
the magic blender wand to puree the contents of the pot,
should be a nice “pea soup” consistency. However you might want this as
an accompaniment rather than a soup, so over to you… Adjust by adding water
if too thick, or blend in a few more chickpeas if too thin. When it seems
right, add the remaining whole chickpeas and return to the simmer before
Very nice with roti or even fresh buns. Give us this day our dahly
*Thinks*…If thinned a little, this would be excellent gravy to cook marinated
tandoori chicken pieces in… I may even add blanched almonds before
blending. Food for thought…