Here are some things that characterize my day today:
- I have eaten an entire box of mini strawberry cream cheese strudels. They were in the manager’s markdown bin right by the checkout at Kroger. I did not get them, they got me.
- The highlight of my day so far was cleaning the fridge.
- I wore sweatpants to school. And a sweatshirt. This does not count as fashion.
- I spent 6 hours in a row doing math, pencil to paper. I know that in the real world this is called a “work day” but I’m not there yet.
- I turned in my stats quiz with no answers.
- The rain has been falling at exactly the same rate for the entire day. I know because I stood in it a lot and my umbrella, while trendy, is quite petite.
This is why I needed daal. Hot, spicy, lentily daal, served on crispy toast (because one more pot to wash, i.e., for the rice, might have put me over the edge) with a cucumber-dill raita. The Refectory, one of the on-campus eateries at Duke, makes a daal that I live for. I asked for the recipe a year ago and they said that they were compiling a cookbook and I should wait until it came out, but I don’t think it ever came out. Liars. And they’re part of the Divinity School. Jeez. So anyway I shall resort to trying all the daal recipes I can find until I can recreate that one. This is attempt #1.
An aside: I love all things that come out of India – best flavors in the world. And also colors. And also dance moves. I went to my first ever Bhangra class on Wednesday night, and very much enjoyed it. I have little to no coordination when it comes to dancing, but I love to move! And I’m slowly mastering that little hand flick thing. I left class with a new appreciation for how much calf strength it takes to jump up and down for an entire hour. Oh yeah, and a blood blister the size of my big toe. But that’s healing, so we won’t talk about it.
Back to the food – this daal was created as a sort-of mash-up of several daal recipes I found on the web. Everyday yellow daal on smitten kitchen was a source of inspiration, as was Route79. Really though I know so little about Indian cooking and there are so many types of daal out there that I was sort of winging it. To be honest, my daal didn’t even come out yellow. And it tastes exactly nothing like the daal at The Refectory – it’s much meatier, for lack of a better descriptor. But it’s still delicious and warming and comforting and the highlight of my day is no longer cleaning the refrigerator because I am on my second plate of dinner, drinking my first glass of wine in a month, and watching a sappy old person love movie.* So here’s the deets:
Basic Yellow Split Pea Daal
- 1 c. yellow split peas
- 1 T canola oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 T cumin
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 3/4 c. diced tomatoes (approx. 1/4 28 oz. can)
- 2 carrots, grated or finely chopped
- 2 T butter
- 1/2 c chopped cilantro
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- Soak the split peas in cold water for half an hour. Drain, and rinse 2 or 3 times until water is fairly clear.
- Cover the split peas with water and bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, sautee onion with cumin in olive oil in medium heat for 5-7 minutes.
- Add onion, tomatoes, carrots and spices to split peas. Simmer on medium heat, half-covered, for a full hour and a half, stirring occasionally. Add water as needed to keep covered.
- When split peas are soft and begin to break down, add butter, cilantro, and salt. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Serve on basmati rice or hot toast with a cucumber-dill raita glopped on top.**
*Old people love movies are movies where people that I consider old have a surprising amount of sex. The prime example of this genre is Something’s Gotta Give.
** Cucumber raita: Take a spoon, a tub of yogurt, half a cucumber (diced), lemon juice, black pepper, kosher salt, cilantro and dill. Mix ingredients, tasting after each addition, until you like it. Personally, I use vanilla yogurt because I like the extra flavor and greek yogurt kind of freaks me out, but most people recommend plain greek yogurt. Also, I used dill in a tube – yeah, I was skeptical too, but there wasn’t any dill in the grocery store and this stuff tastes great! And you don’t have to chop anything! So I approve of that too.