You know, anyone who bakes a lot (guilty!) is likely to have a shelf (or several shelves) cluttered with 'essentials' that they didn't really need at all. I notice this everywhere. More so than with enthusiasts of other types of cooking, bakers in particular hoard flours, spices, extracts and chocolates as if they were gold ingots. They spend huge sums on ridiculous items (jasmine extract anybody?), convincing themselves that said product will change their lives and make them better at their chosen hobby.
They are delusional. The only people worse than them are the cake decorators. My God: they could fill entire rooms with all manner of strange shaped, food safe plastic made apparatus. And for what? Sugar flowers that nobody eats.
(In fairness, I have used the jasmine extract three or four times.)
One of the 'essentials' I bought a while ago - a super-sized bag of ground cinnamon from my local Indian grocer - has, though, made the leap from baking shelf to my actual food cupboard. By that, I mean the one above my work space, next to the mugs and glasses. We're talking the prime real estate location of my kitchen, the Zone 1 of Number Eighty-Seven. And it's not because I like to make cinnamon toast. Although that's actually a blast from the past that needs revisiting at my earliest convenience (not going to happen for a while though - finding myself in a hotel room with neither grill nor cinnamon, I'm filing that thought under 'next time').
No, it's because of my lentil addiction, which I touched on briefly in my previous post. I just can't get enough of those damned dals! Or daals. I am never sure how to spell that one.
Have you ever tried cinnamon with lentils? The combination is going to drive you crazy. I'm not going to take any credit for it, mind you. I got this recipe from Ko Rasoi, so it's Sanjana we'll be giving thanks to. As I said last time, I cook from her blog all the time (at the moment, weekly). and this curry is my favourite so far. I just can't get over the ease with which it all comes together (Sanjana posted this during her finals, which tells you everything you need to know), and how exotic and adventurous I feel cooking with curry leaves.
There is also the excitment of the mustard seeds popping. Special attention must be drawn to that.
I am not going to give the recipe here. You can go to Sanjana's blog to get it, and others. I will, though, tell you a few things about me and this curry.
- It has twice been voted 'the best thing on the table' when made as part of a selection of curries for friends I had round.
- I never add the asafoetida, but only because I haven't ever bought any.
- I like to keep a little back when I make it to eat the following day for lunch, in wraps from my local Middle Eastern shop, with corriander and yoghurt. It's probably an inauthentic way to eat, but it's delicious.
- It saves me from eating badly when the bank balance is too frightening to look at. You shouldn't be paying more than a pound or so for a big bag of mung beans. This means you can have the expensive shoes (I recently had the expensive shoes) and dinner as well. How perfect can life be?