I purchased Madhur Jaffrey’s 1982 BBC/Barron’s published cookbook Indian Cooking at a now defunct but much loved thrift shop in Bay Shore, NY called Pandora’s Box about 8 years ago. I still remember finding it like it was yesterday. I was rummaging through the cookbook section and the title jumped out at me. I had spent 6 months in London studying Textile Design at the London Institute (Chelsea College of Art and Design in Shepherd’s Bush) in 1998. No sooner had I unpacked, I bolted to the Tube for my first of many visits to London’s East End to experience heavenly Indian and other savory South East Asian food. I bought fresh spices and broke dorm rules by cooking on an illicit electric skillet using recipes written down while grilling the Indian men and women who ran the markets while munching on freshly made samosas and pakoras.
Dal was one of the things I would make frequently as it is a lentil based dish (thrifty and filling) and I could sop it up in a bowl with freshly baked naan bread hot off the tandoor ovens in the East End.
Madhur Jaffrey is a celebrated authority on Indian food and has written many books since this one. Again, I am not publishing the recipes until I figure out how to go about it properly! I can always email the exact recipe to whoever may request it.
Masoor dal calls for the salmon colored (red) split lentils commonly found in supermarkets. They turn a lovely butter yellow color during cooking and are delicious.
This recipe called for red split lentils, ground coriander, ground cumin, tumeric, cayenne pepper, H2O, vegetable oil (I used coconut oil), and salt. First I picked over and washed the lentils and rinsed them in a few changes of H2O. I put them in a bowl and covered them with H2O and let them sit for 4 hrs. I then combined all the dry spices in a bowl with a spoonful of H2O and stirred it into a paste. Then I heated the coconut oil in a heavy pot over medium heat and poured the spice mixture in and stirred it once. Then I put in the soaked and DRAINED lentils an gave it a stir, added the salt, and added the H2O, brought it to a boil, reduced the heat to very low, covered, and let it cook for about 15 minutes. I adjusted the seasonings and added a bit more cumin and salt but do this to your liking. I served it with a dollop of homemade tahini (1/2 c. sesame paste, 2 tblsp. olive oil, 3 garlic cloves, juice of 1 lemon, and whizzed in the food processor) on top and toasted whole wheat pita bread on the side. It was delicious and my meat eating husband was thoroughly satisfied (I topped his with a dollop of Greek yogurt).
My picture of the actual finished dish did not come out at all and I barely got to take it anyway since the Mr. was starving and needed to eat right away as we had both come from the gym (I had an 8 mile day). I did take a picture of the dry lentils and they do look pretty!