November 17, 2014
After an action-packed launch in Chicago, Indian For Everyone is on the move. And, first stop is/was Vancouver. I have to say, whenever I stop in this amazing city, I always always always make sure I also stop at Global News in Burnaby. Not only is the station one of the friendliest, but so helpful and so appreciative of delicious Indian food. Here, with morning anchors Sophie and Steve.
As a journalist I always love the story behind the story, so here it is. This appearance was HIGH stress for me. First off, as exciting as these TV spots seem, setting up a cooking demo with a cooked dish, a cooking dish, and all the paraphernalia is no laughing matter. Now add travel to that one. I'm on the road - alone - because we are on a shoestring budget doing these hits and what to make? What to cook? Especially from a hotel room. Lo and behold a quick-cooking dal is the answer. It's at once easy, fast, and convenient to cook - why you should make this a regular meal in your own home.
I've dubbed this tour affectionately the 'Art of Dal' tour. Everyone loves Indian lentils, but few really know the true art of making a great pot. I picked the red split lentils (massoor), which only take about 12 minutes to cook down. This way, I could bring a bag with me from the U.S., carry it into the newsroom, and cook it right there. One amazing trick? I found an All Clad pot that looks like caste iron but is light as a feather - it's new on the market and my favorite go-to for cooking demos out of a suitcase. Here's that segment from Global in case you missed it. I looked a little crazy to the producers getting in at 6:30 a.m. for an 8:35 hit, but I feel a lot better being set up and relaxing rather than scrambling last minute.
In case you want a basic, simple tarka recipe, here it is in a nutshell. Skinned, split lentils/beans take far less time and water to cook than their whole lentil/bean alternative with skin. For spit and skinned your benchmark is 1 cup dal to about 4 cups water - cook for 12-15 minutes. That's it. Leave that on the side in a pot, it has the consistency of a thick porridge.
In a shallow sauce pan make your tarka, which is just your ghee or oil infused with key spices. For 1 cup of dal (above), heat 1-2 tablespoons of ghee or oil. Once hot, add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder. Cook about 40 seconds until just brown. If you really want to impress, add one cinnamon stick and 2 cloves as well. Add 1 small minced onion. Cook until just brown. Add 1 tablespoon each of minced ginger and garlic, and cook another minute or so. Add 1-2 thinly sliced Thai chiles. Cook another 30 seconds. Add this mixture to the cooked lentils. Also add 1 teaspoon each of garam masala, coriander powder, red chile powder, and salt to taste (I use about 2 teaspoons). Cook through. You have now officially worked your magic, or rather your spices have.
You can also go crazy after if you want. Add diced tomatoes, spinach, and other veggies. Or, mix in some cooked quinoa and/or rice. The possibilities are truly endless.
Okay, gotta run. I'm in Seattle, where I'll be packing it all into 2 very hectic days. I'll go from print interviews, to a segment on KING-TV, the Savory Spice Shop, Costco, and of course one of fave spots, the Book Larder. Both Savory and Book Larder carry my Spice Tiffin! Click here for details - stop by if you're a local. I'd love to see you and sign your books!