— I know the end is always near but I hope it’ll remain sufficiently far until it’s time so I’m going to take the long way around (with your indulgence) to get to my point.
Similarly, to eat the food prepared by someone, or based on someones carefully detailed recipe, is to know that someone (in good ways, but in bad ways too, e.g., if some aspect of the recipe indicates a lazy disregard of an ingredient or process) in ways that is not possible to know them through a casual encounter. The taste of their food (as with honestly expressive art in the case of talented artists) is the key to an intimate insight into the very soul of a person that they would never reveal to anyone but their most loved ones.
I hope you too find your own way to do the same. I leave you with this song “Cry No More” by Rhiannon Giddens and with my mother-in-law’s and husband’s recipe for Slow-cooked Maash (Urad) Daal.
Own your otherness, don’t let it own you.
Slow-cooked Maash (Urad) Daal
Cooking Time: ~ 1 hour
- Two cups maash (urad) daal
- 8 cups hot water
- 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
- 1 inch piece ginger (sliced into thin discs)
- 3-4 whole dried red peppers
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- Salt to taste (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 onion (peeled and sliced finely)
- 1/4 cup regular oil and ghee mixture (enough to generously fill the bottom of a saute pan)
- Cilantro, slivered ginger, limes and fresh chili peppers for garnish
2. Add daal to a deep nonstick pot.
3. Add hot water (5 cups). Give it a stir (do not stir stir the lentils more than I recommend here). After the water comes back to a boil, skim off scum from the top (you will need to do it 2-3 times, and give it another stir once during the last stir to get all the remaining scum).
4. Add garlic, ginger and the red pepper.
5. Add hot water very little at a time if needed, stir another time gently and cover.
6. After 10 minutes, add salt, stir once more gently and cover.
7. Then let cook until the lentils are soft (but with each individual lentil still holding its shape) and the water all absorbed (about 30 minutes, but check carefully, e.g., by dipping a fork into the lentils, without stirring to see if the water has been absorbed at around 20 minutes). Only add hot water if absolutely necessary.
8. In the meantime, caramelize onions in the oil/ghee mixture by frying them in a separate pan and stirring consistently to avoid burning. Separate the onions from the hot oil and spread the onions on a paper towel so that any excess oil is soaked off.
9. Heat the oil in which the onions were caramelized if it’s become lukewarm. Spread out the daal in your serving platter, crumble the caramelized onions on top and around and pour the hot oil on top (it should make a sizzling sound as it hits the lentils) before serving.
Serve with rice or roti and the previously prepared garnish of fresh ginger, green or red chilies, limes and cilantro leaves.