Friday, May 7, 2010

Rice & Dhal & ...

"As a child my family's menu consisted of two choices:  take it or leave it."  ~Buddy Hackett

~this post dedicated to one birthday guy and two adventurous ladies~ 

When I was younger I absolutely did not like dhal... which was unfortunate as we had rice and dhal and something for lunch just about every Saturday. My dad is a dhal-lover... in fact most (I can't say all as I don't know for sure though I think it may be all) of his siblings are dhal-lovers as well. I've found though that sometime over the past couple years I've developed a liking to dhal. Ok... more than a liking. Sometimes I crave some good rice & dhal & ... lol. Perhaps it is not absence but repeated exposure that makes the heart grow fonder? Or maybe my dad's family's dhal-loving genes are kicking in? Am not sure what it is but now dhal is no longer my enemy... but quite often a very welcome guest to my table. 

And so I thought I'd try a food post... Last September I spent a wonderful Saturday with three friends before we all transitioned out of a shared community and into new adventures... one of the things that came up was that they'd like to know what sorta food Trinis eat... and I kinda said I'd send pics and such - which I didn't although I did take out pics to send (that does count for something right?). Today is the birthday of one of those friends though and as I remember him and times spent together it feels like a good time to try this out...

So... pls keep in mind that everything given here is subject to the tastes of d persons cooking/eating them... e.g. I don't cook with pepper... am a poor example of a Trini cuz I doh like pepper (though strangely enough I can handle American pepper sauce... hmm)... each dish can be - and most likely is  - cooked in varying ways in households throughout T&T so what I write here is just ... my version. 

And so ... Dhal. I think by now everyone who has had some kinda interaction with Indian food has had dhal of some sort... Trinis use yellow split peas...

You measure it out... rinse it out and then put it up to boil. While that's boiling... you prep the rest of stuff going in the pot..
As I've said above... what is put in the pot typically depends on who's cooking... I like more garlic... not everyone uses carrot but I do every now and then (I try to sneak in carrot in everything I cook - carrots.. blergh). All stuff is cut up and added to boiling pot of split peas. And if you want measurements: 
  • about 1/2 lb of yellow split peas (yields 4 - 6 servings)
  • enough water for it to boil in
  • about 1/4 - 1/2 tsp saffron
  • about 2 tsps salt? (season to taste)
  • 3 - 4 - how-much-u-want cloves of garlic
  • about 1/4 - 1/2 onion
  • a lil bit (tsp?) geera and methi goes in dhal while boiling..
  • carrot (if u want to try ah ting)
  • bandhania leaf (optional but adds extra yum)
Leave dhal to boil down... make sure all water does not boil out... if it does but you see it in time before it sticks to the bottom of the pot and burns - add more water... if it does and you don't see it in time - remove pot to airy area - start all over with new pot. 
While the dhal is boiling you can make whatever other dishes you want to go with it... usually you'll find some kinda chokha (chk out this site for more on what is a chokha) or some kinda meat or something so... The day I took pics I made tomatoes chokha...
Wash and roast tomatoes... you can do this on any grill I guess... then peel skins off tomatoes and mash... how much you do this depends on how chunky you want it... cut up onion & garlic & etc... add to dish... or you can chunkay (sorta like sauté) your onion/garlic/etc and then add to dish...

By this time... check on your dhal... I've found that if I just leave it to boil a while it boils down really smooth without help of a swizzle stick or any other instrument... I like my dhal smooth-ish... some ppl like it with split peas grains still fairly visible... my dad likes dhal more on the watery-side... my mom prefers it more on the thick-side... we've had *lots* of dhal discussions over the years...When dhal is nearly at consistency you'd like it... chunkay some garlic and geera ... maybe some ground geera too ... and then add to dhal... then you have... Deliciousness...

And voilà one now has rice and dhal and tomatoes chokha... where's the rice? In the rice cooker... come on... you all must know how to cook rice ... with or without a rice cooker..
One other thing I made that day: five fingers chow... Some of you reading may already be lost... so...

These are five fingers...aka carambola... aka ? starfruit? am not sure what else it may be called... it's a fruit with a citrus-ish taste...

And then chow... chow is - just about anything cut up with salt and pepper and garlic and bandhania... again it's basically seasoned to taste... and just about anything can be made into a chow... what's in season for example... mango? yay! mango chow! plum? plum chow! pineapple? pommecythere? pomerac? only have cucumber available? cucumber chow! :D Chow is a major thing in T&T... everybody can make a chow... it's usually available at most limes... actually any time is a good time for chow... and so I made...five fingers chow:

And that's one menu for today.


lol... and now I feeling for dhal... ah well... hope you all have a great weekend... be inspired... get in the kitchen.. :)


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