I don’t know about you, but almost a week after the American Presidential election and even though at present it does not directly affect me on a personal level, I still feel a little flat.
It didn’t feel right sharing pictures of food on social media amidst so much tumult and as much as I normally try to limit my intake of news, it’s been almost impossible to NOT get sucked into the whole debacle… But if you are starting to worry that this post will become all political, no need. I will leave it right here, though I felt like I needed to make a note of it, as whether you live in the U.S or not, we are all human beings living on the same blue planet in this vast Universe. And perhaps it is about time that we wake up to the fact that what effects one does affect the whole. Even if it is not always felt immediately.
This week I am planning on carry on from last’s week’s theme of Food + Love, but with a slightly different angle. The food (and friendship) angle!
This Lemony Lentil Dahl, is my take on a delicious meal that my dear friend Michele made for me this summer when I stayed with her in her home in Seattle, WA. It’s one of those simple and comforting type of meals / dishes that I love so much. Even though I first tasted it in June it makes a great winter warmer, hence why I am sharing it with you all now.
With all that is ever ongoing in this world, my intention for this particular post is to celebrate the beauty of friendship and connection. I haven’t known Michele for much more than a year, yet if feels like we’ve already established a connection that runs much deeper than what short time we’ve known eachother. You never know with whom you might connect, or where or when. Today we have perhaps more opportunities to connect with people than ever hadn’t it been for the Internet. Me and Michele connected through an online mentorship programme and after many hours of Skype we eventually got to meet in person.
This whole experience brought it home to me again, that when it truly comes down to it, what matters most is people and the connections we establish with one another. It also highlighted the fact that even though we might come from different countries, with different backgrounds and upbringings, when we meet people who share the same values like ourselves, there’s an instant connection which goes beyond all of that, and one on which we can build a stronger bond going forward.
When I asked Michele for the recipe of this dish she told me that it was not “hers”. My understanding is that as long as, if you use someone else’s recipe word for word, (obviously!) full credit is due, but nobody has patent on ingredients or combination thereof. This lends itself to the beauty of creativity, possibility and change. Maybe even a celebration of the fact that nothing ever stays exactly the same…
So a bit like “Chinese Whispers” things can get lost in translation and we make our own interpretations. For better and for worse. This is my interpretation of Michele’s Lemony Lentil Dahl, and I’m sharing it here with you as a celebration of the possibilities that is connection and friendship (and food of course!)
*Please note that this recipe is one of those that has “fluid” measurements. So even though I have given some exact ones below, please feel free to experiment and adjust according to your own preferences both when it comes to taste and texture. More liquid will give a more soup-like consistency.*
Michele’s Lemony Lentil Dahl (With my interpretations)
Serves 2 (Double the recipe and make a large batch if you are feeding many or want to fill your freezer)
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 large or 2 small yellow onions
250g red lentils
450 ml stock
½ tsp brown mustard seeds
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
½ tsp nigella seeds –optional
2 pods black cardamom – optional
4-5 large leaves of Swiss (Rainbow) Chard or Spinach
Sea salt and black pepper, to season
Place mustard seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds and the seeds from the black cardamom pods, if using, in a pester and mortar and ground roughly.
Peel and chop the onions finely.
Heat the coconut oil on a heavy based large saucepan. Once the oil is warmed up, add all of the spices and fry off on low heat until fragrant. Add the chopped onion and fry off until translucent.
Rinse and drain the red lentils and add to the pan together with the stock. Give everything a good stir and then bring to the boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for about 20 min until the lentils start coming apart.
Add the juice of the two lemons. Taste and season accordingly. If you don’t think it is lemony enough, add more juice.
Wash and chop the chard / spinach roughly, stems and all and add to the Dahl. Keep stirring the Dahl until all of the chard / spinach has wilted down.
Serve warm in bowls. This recipe is one of those which tastes even better the following day, so it is well worth making some extra!