Oh wow; I’m only ten weeks in to this and already I have hit India. I would find it incredibly hard to describe on this 2D medium how much I love everything Indian. It’s not just the food I love (which I do) but it is the culture, the intensely close families, the love of dancing, music, drama, bollywood etc etc etc…..the lot! On the food front I just think I was born to love the ingredients used in Indian food: garlic, ginger, chilli, coriander, cumin, cinnamon and the rest. Together they are like the Brazilian football team: wonderful, exciting and consistently brilliant.
No pressure then when it comes to this week then!
A very close friend of mine (Kirrily) has close ties with India and spent many summers there whilst she trained to be a doctor. She became integrated into local village society there and, through her recounting of her life there, I felt like I knew what it was like to live in the Indian subcontinent. I have, sadly, never been but it it remains at the very top of my list of places to visit once we can afford to. Kirrily was in India until 48 hours before my wedding and she flew back early to be there. Whilst that was touching in itself, her gift was the better still. Not only did she bring back a kick ass set of copper Thali dishes, she also brought back a cookbook she had signed by an 88 year old author of cook books (whilst she was in India). The book is written to Katie R. Irani who was a follower of Meher Baba (a spiritual master and mystic) and has created a book of Indian recipes which have been designed to please Baba. She writes wonderfully and makes clear that all dishes are for home cooking and not designed to athestically please…but to taste great. Sadly Katie Irani died 7 months after my wedding, so this recipe is for her. I make no attempts to alter it for my own taste. I am coping a recipe and following it. It doesn’t get much more authentic than this.
I decided to cook one of Katie’s Dal (lentil) Curries, as the majority of India is vegetarian, it is traditional and I bloody love it. I have made dals (or dhals) for years, but always done them in a very simplistic way i.e. cook down the lentils and then add the mixed spices. I have not thought to do it the way Katie Irani explains i.e. with peanuts, coconut, sesame seeds etc. I am cooking a Lasun (garlic) Jeera (cumin) Dal.
I made the dish and whilst it was detailed in the number of ingredients, it was pretty simple. I made it with some tandoori lamb chops, but they are just the garnish.
I’m biased as I love dal, but hands up this was the best dal I have ever had. It was deep, so the heat took a while to grip but when it did it lingered like a stalker, but a stalker you secretly like stalking you. I’m not going to talk much more. Have a look at the pic, cook the recipe in memory of Katie Irani and enjoy. It might take you a wee while to get the dish done….but it is worth it. In summary….I LOVE INDIA!