Quest for the perfect – dhal recipe

Another one of my long running quests is the search for the perfect dhal. Perhaps a bit shamefully, my favourite to date has been from one of those all you can eat, buffet style Indian ‘restaurants’ – so creamy, spicy and delicious. But how to replicate this at home? All of my previous efforts had been too soupy – I like my dhal thick, and stew-like – ready to be scooped onto waiting papadums.

When the nights turned cold again, I wanted something spicy and comforting. Time to add another contender to the quest for the perfect dhal recipe.

I think this time I got closer than ever before, especially in terms of texture. This dhal was definitely ‘healthier’ than what you would get if eating out – a lot less oily, and more of a fresh tomato flavour. I also added some kale to get some greens into the meal, which was a great addition – the robust nature of kale can stand up to quite a lot of cooking and so worked well.

Dhal in progress - clearly I lack the ability to cook small servings!

Dhal in progress – clearly I lack the ability to cook small servings!

Red Lentil Dhal 

(adapted from taste.com.au ‘Red lentil dhal with spinach’)

1 cup dried red lentils, washed and drained

1 cup chickpeas or kidney beans (I used canned because I had them; feel free to use dry, or omit altogether)

a decent shake of cumin

1 tbsp turmeric

1 red chilli + a few shakes chilli powder (adjust to taste)

1 tbsp sunflower, or other vegetable oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tbsp grated fresh ginger

400g canned chopped tomatoes + 4 finely chopped fresh tomatoes (again, the fresh tomatoes can be omitted; I wanted to use some up!)

1 tsp caster sugar

150g kale (or baby spinach)

rice, papadums, naan bread, chutney to serve (if desired).

Let’s Cook!

1. Rinse the lentils. Once rinsed, put into a saucepan, cover with water and simmer for 5 minutes, or until soft. Drain.

2. Put the rice on to steam. In a large frypan, add oil and spices, with onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until the onions soften.

3. Add the tomatoes, sugar and drained lentils, and other beans if using. Simmer for 15 minutes, adding kale about 5 minutes from end. Stir regularly to ensure it isn’t sticking – add water if needed.

4. Once everything is tender, serve with rice and other goodies if desired.

warming winter goodness

warming winter goodness

Finally a dhal I can feel good about eating! This hit the spot, but I have a feeling the quest for the ultimate dhal will continue until I can replicate the unhealthy oily version… but for now this is a good start 🙂

 

 

 

Sydney Adventures – SUFF launch, ‘The Room’ screening and more vegie burgers

Cult movies are a big love of mine, especially those with audience participation. Almost everyone has had the ubiquitous Rocky Horror Show experience, complete with dressing up, singing the songs, and yelling at the screen.

Last night I was super excited to be attending the launch of the 2013 SUFF (Sydney Underground Film Festival) program, complete with FREE pizza, drink AND screening of The Room, which is turning 10 this year. For reasons unclear even to me, I am a huge fan of this film.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, this film is almost indescribable – overwrought, tragic melodrama is probably the best I can do. It must be seen to be believed. A film that cost $6 million to produce, but looks like it should have been made for $2.50. A lead man so repulsive the budget was probably blown on the lead actress’ (and I use the term ‘actress’ loosely) salary, to convince her to shoot the frequent, repulsive love scenes.  A ‘narrative’ which is so non sensical that audiences members are frequently heard to yell ‘Who the f*!k are you?’ to previously unseen characters. Set decorations which have led to audience members bringing their own plastic cutlery to screenings. Not to mention the game of football, whilst wearing tuxedos.

If these teasers haven’t tempted you to seek out the film, the audience participation might. Like The Rocky Horror Show, the films’ perceived deficiencies have led to ‘call and response’ amongst the audience, where, when a certain line or action occurs onscreen, the audience responds in kind. Thus the plastic cutlery.

As the audience consisted of supporters of SUFF and a number of repeat viewers, this was a particularly rambunctious, and thus, extremely enjoyable performance/screening. Prior to the screening, a preview of the 2013 SUFF program was shown, and there is a number of really great features that I look forward to seeing there – I’d encourage you to check it out! www.suff.com.au

 

The aftermath of 'The Room' screening

The aftermath of ‘The Room’ screening

All of the melodrama, yelling and laughter made myself and Mr A. hungry for a late dinner. We ended up at Grill’d World Square, which was one of the limited late night options on a school night.

Grill'd World Square - very keen on the industrial decor!

Grill’d World Square – very keen on the industrial decor!

But hey! This gave me the opportunity to indulge my on going obsession with vegie burgers. And I had quite a good one the ‘Garden Goodness’ burger, a mixed veg pattie on a really delicious, super fresh bun with some quality condiments, like a avocado/basil-y sauce, and crisp salad. Although on this occasion I think Mr A.’s choice was superior – the ‘Field of Dreams’ burger. It’s hard to go past a giant mushroom on a burger. I’d rate it a 7/10 (a bit expensive, and does not come with chips, they have to be bought separately). The chips were pretty awesome though, chunky with herb mix? Tick.

Grill'd Garden Goodness burger and chips = top late night eating

Grill’d Garden Goodness burger and chips = top late night eating – loved the red tin jug too!

All in all, a really enjoyable night out, especially for a Wednesday (school night!). Also appreciated the lights decorating the concrete courtyard at World Square on the walk to the station.

Blurry 'art-sy' pic of the lights at World Square

Blurry ‘art-sy’ pic of the lights at World Square

 

 

Quest for the perfect Vego sausage roll

Upon my almost daily visit to the supermarket yesterday, I was delighted to see that Woolworth’s are branching out their range of vegetarian frozen goods. I was particularly excited to see the appearance of the Linda McCartney range, which I had always been quite keen to try. First off the blocks and into the trolley were the vego sausage rolls – I have a longstanding quest to find the ‘perfect’ faux sausage roll 🙂

Image

 

Now I know that faux-meat products aren’t for everyone, and that there is debate about the necessity of these products, and whether they make the statement that a vegetarian diet is inadequate. I would never tell anyone else what to do with their lives, or eating preferences. For me, these kinds of meat substitutes serve a purpose (i.e.: nostalgia – I used to love sausages rolls as a meat eater) – and if it serves to have people re think eating meat, or even eating a little less, I think they have a place *gets off soap box*

So anyway – I have tried a number of vegetarian sausage rolls, always in the quest for something that tastes like (my memory of) the ‘real thing’. These ones came close. The Linda McCartney rolls have the added bonus of being vegan, unlike the front runners in my books, the Quorn brand sausage rolls.  The pastry was great, not too thick, and melt in your mouth buttery style consistency – next time I plan to cook them a little longer so they get a really crispy pastry going on. They weren’t too greasy either, which can sometimes be a turn off. The filling was tasty, and certainly had the ‘sausage-y’ flavour going on. All in all, I think these made a nice winter weekend treat (we had them as an entree), and would give them an 8.5 out of 10 – definitely a respectable score. The quest continues….

Image