Dangerous Compassions

how I make dal

Hello, reader.  How’s tricks?  I want to tell you how I make dal.  Some people like it, so my elucidation could be a service to the world.

orange solstice meal

I cooked a meal with my housemate for our community.  It was an orange meal for summer solstice.  Wow, what a tasty time.  The menu was red lentil dal, saffron rice, green salad with carrot and calendula flower petals, and an orange cake.  Oh wait, I forgot the star–day lilies stuffed with vegan ricotta and deep fried.

Or maybe it was shallow fried.  At any rate, I made a batter like I would make for chile rellenos.  Then we made some bonus onion rings, which was amazing too.

Here are some stuffed day lilies wrapped with green onion for the string.  That was a fun part.

day lilies stuffed and tied up

Here’s the cake, decorated with cherries from our tree.  At first my decoration was a peace sign.  I told Ming, “Ahhh!!!  I can’t get away from it!”  So I increased the radiating lines.  It was supposed to be a sun.

orange cake

It had wheat flour, so I didn’t try it, but Ming said it was tasty and sweeter than the lemon cake.

I don’t think I ever showed you the vegan lemon cake I baked for a housemate’s birthday.  Here it is before the ceremony with its “not yet.”

lemon cake

The rice was just regular white rice I think, with salt and two pinches of saffron.

how I make dal

Now I will tell you the whole point of this post–how I make dal.

First I put oil in the pan–olive oil is fine.  Probably it’s two tablespoons of oil.  I turn on the heat and sprinkle copious spices.

First I do cumin whole.  I want it to sizzle and start to pop but not burn.  Then I turn the heat down and add more spices.

  • turmeric
  • cayenne
  • cumin ground
  • coriander
  • one star anise
  • chili pepper flakes
  • black pepper
  • generous salt
  • some garam masala if it’s about

Those are the usual suspects.  Then I add to the pot a buncha garlic, like ten cloves if I can manage.  Also maybe an onion diced depending on who I’m cooking for, and some red lentils.  One or two cups of red lentils should be fine, depending on how many people I’m cooking for.

I add a lot of water like twice the amount of lentils.  Then I bring it to boil and turn the heat down.  I let it simmer for half an hour maybe.  I check and stir it occasionally, adding water if need be.  When the lentils start to clump on the bottom of the pot, it’s probably done.

coconut milk

“Will you taste this?” I asked my housemate I was cooking with, by way of collaboration and love.  I was hoping for feedback about saltiness, spiciness–anything it needed.  “Do you think a can of coconut milk would help it be more delicious?”

My housemate said it was perfect, and we could add coconut milk, but there was no need.

Later another housemate admitted that he ate the star anise.  He said at first he thought it might not belong–it might be a hard spider.  Hmm, weird idea, right?

Brave star anise eating housemate.  Glad he survived.  I hope you’re surviving things well also, reader.  I hope if you make this dal, it’s delicious for you.

tomato possibility

You can put some chopped tomatoes with the red lentils or a can of tomatoes at some point to give the Red Depth of sweetness acid.  I hope your tummy enjoys that.  As for me, my tummy cannot endure that.  I love you.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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