Sunday, January 9, 2011

Making Mud and Magick

Cooking Adventure: Red Lentils & Rice
Source: Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates by The Moosewood Collective
The Bellydance Soundtrack: Habibi Ya Eini by Bellydance Superstars
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cook Time: 25 min.

Last weekend I did a major overhaul of the kitchen cabinets to find that I have quite the monopoly on non-perishable food items. In addition, I also shopped at what my husband and I have deemed, "The Fancy Grocery Store" last week and am now determined to cut down on food costs so I can spend more on food... Yeah, it all makes sense in some twisted culinary way.

I've come to realize that a large part of practical cooking is making food last. Taste can be an amazing thing but it can get, as the Minnesotans say, spendy don't ya know? And when there are no leftovers to take to work for lunch, I tend to spend way more money and imbue my body with many more calories than are necessary. So a trip to the library, a handful of books, a bag of carrots, a red bell pepper, and one day later I found myself mixing up a good batch of dahl for the coming busy days.

In addition to all of this, I've recently picked up the book The Golden Bough by James George Frazer. Apparently this 1922 study in comparative religions had quite the profound affect on Aleister Crowley's & Scott Cunningham's ritual writings - not to mention some bit of influence on Terry Pratchet's creation of Disc World. I haven't gotten to far in, but I have reached his attempt to categorize various types of magic. According to Frazer, Sympathetic Magic is any type of spell/ritual/superstition in which an object represents the need of the magician (his example is of an Indian doctor using the sun's yellow color to draw out jaundice from a patient). 

I thought about this for a while and decided that lentils must be used for fertility, because, like good soil, they soak up water and retain it. After rinsing a cup & a half of lentils, you actually end up getting 2 cups of lentils. Alas, the dahl, once cooked, comes out resembling a very tasty mud. Hmm... mud-looking, retains water... Yup. Beans are for earth and fertility. They could also represent impending gas... I'm sticking with the earth/fertility representation.

1 cup chopped onions
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1 Tbsp. peeled, grated fresh ginger root
1 Tbsp. freshly grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper or 1 small seeded and minced jalapeno
1 cup peeled and chopped carrots
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
1 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
6 lemon wedges
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, more to taste

1. In a large heavy soup pot, saute the onions in the oil for about 10 minutes over medium heat, until soft and translucent. (*I really don't know why it says ten minutes. It only takes about 3-5 minutes to saute onions. Use your best judgement. If they look cooked, they're cooked.)
2. Add the garlic, ginger root, lemon peel, cinnamon, and cayenne or jalapeno. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, and adding a little water if needed to prevent sticking.
3. Add the carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes, until tender.
4. Stir in the peppers and cook for about 2 minutes.
5. Add the lentils, water, and salt; cover and bring to a boil - this will happen quickly so stay close to the pot. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 15-20 minutes, until the lentils are soft.
6. Serve the lentils over the saffron rice with lemon wedges & cilantro.

*I just made the lentils so I could have the supply in the fridge. For a quick addition and dinner, put 1 1/2 cups of basmati rice, 2 3/4 cups of water, a pinch of saffron & 1/2 tsp. salt in a medium saucepan. Bring it to a boil, cover, remove from the heat & let it sit until the water has been absorbed. Ta da! Easy dinner!


Anonymous said...

According to some books, if you boil the beans with a strip of kombu (tough seaweedy plant) it helps with the...side effects of beans. I haven't tried it myself yet (no point, until I'm allowed to eat beans again). But if you decide to try, I would suggest getting the kombu from the big asian grocery store in town, where it is about an eighth of the price as Fancy Grocery Store.

Magaly Guerrero said...

I almost licked my screen! I'm fasting (3 more days to go). Your cooking looks too yummy, this is torture ;-(

A Broom And The Moon said...

This looks amazing!I will have to try this soon! Thanks for the amazing recipe! Bright Blessings to you and your family! -Jenn