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Cooking again

December 2, 2009

I lost my cooking mojo for a couple of weeks. Being a person who cooks by taste and inspiration means that when I am good I am pretty good, but when I am bad I am really terrible. When the mojo goes, I can’t seem to cook anything at all. I even stuffed up boiled eggs for breakfast – and we are talking freshly laid eggs in a pan of water! Things I have made many times before turned out inedible. Take dhal/lentils for instance. We eat lentils about once a week in some form or the other. I usually make all sorts of interesting lentil dishes in an attempt to entice my family to eat them (Andrew usually manages to find something else to eat, or comes home too late to want dinner if I happen to say that it is dhal for dinner, such is his “love” for it. Hence the need to keep it varied and tasty….usually.) For the last three weeks, each time I have attempted to make dhal, it has ended up as a huge pot of something so disgusting that even I could not force myself to eat it. It went straight out to the dog and chooks and we had to get take away dinner for yet another night. This would not be such a terrible thing if we had better take away food options in the part of Sydney where I live, and each night we had to venture further afield to find decent food for dinner.

Late last week with Tara’s birthday fast approaching I was starting to get a tad worried about this lack of cooking ability. My kids have such huge expectations of multiple birthday feasts (an expectation created and nurtured by me ofcourse) that lack of cooking mojo was going to be a serious problem.  By luck or accident it turned out ok on the weekend and I managed to produce a decent meal. I will post up some pictures and recipes shortly. But I am very pleased to say that tonight I successfully made an edible dhal (moong dhal with dill) and none went to the dog or chooks! The kids and Andrew even gave it the thumbs up, yes, even Andrew. So I think it is a recipe certainly worth posting up here!

Mung dhal with dill

Dill is eaten as a vegetable in India, not just as a sparingly used herb! I am not sure how “authentic” a recipe this is, it is just what I made – I wanted something pretty simple, plain and very fast/minimal effort to cook!

1 cup of spit mung beans (I used the one without the skin, but you could easily use any other version too – it does need to be mung though as you want it to retain its shape and texture when cooked, and to cook fast).
1 bunch dill finely chopped
1 small brown onion finely diced
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 large ripe tomato diced

Wash the dhal well and leave it to soak in a bowl of water for at least half an hour or longer.

Heat a little olive oil and add the cumin seeds and turmeric. Cook for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Add the onion and ginger and cook until translucent. Add in the dhal with half a cup of water and the tomato. Cover the pot and turn down the heat to a low simmer. You may need to add a little more water as it is cooking – it is better to add the water slowly as you want to end up with it cooked ‘al dente’ and not all wet and mushy. When it is about half cooked (in about 5-10 minutes) add in the finely diced stems of the dill to start to get the flavour into the dhal. When it is just about cooked add in the rest of the dill and salt to taste. If it has too much liquid, remove the lid and allow it to dry as it finishes cooking. Just before serving stir in a tablespoon or two of lemon juice.

We ate it in bowls on its own with spoons (the old low carb option) and the kids ate it with Lebanese bread.

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