Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dal with Coconut Cream

Comfort food means something different to everyone but for me comfort food is simply, anything homemade. 

I was very lucky to have gone to a school that was on a farm, with a biodynamic farm across the street. We had an incredible school lunch program that was staffed by parents and all organic. The woman who ran the program insisted that no one wear plastic gloves while they made or served the food, she felt it was unnecessary and sent the wrong message.

Last night when I came home I was beat, so I was glad I had planned on making, Dal with Coconut Cream, a recipe by Deborah Madison. It's a simple comforting dish that I find very easy to prepare and it's perfect for the cold weather we've been having. I am a huge admirer of Deborah's recipes and cooking philosophy but something I really love about her cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, are the illustrations. Much in the same way an illustration is a reflection of the person who drew it, a recipe or a home cooked meal is an intimate refection of the person who has made it. 

While it's easy to go out and buy a pre-made meal when you're tired, or not think twice about the person's rubber gloves who is making your sandwich (I once got a grilled cheese with the tip of someone's latex glove in it) or choose glossy photographs over the raw line of an illustration, somehow I think it's better to go for the homemade. Because knowing that your own two hands made the dinner you are about to eat, is the best comfort of all.

This recipe is courtesy of Deborah Madison from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, 1997 Broadway Books.

1 cup red lentils, well rinsed
1 garlic clove
1/4 jalapeno chili, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro stems
2 teaspoons minced ginger
several tablespoons coconut cream 

Combine the lentils, 3 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until they have disintegrated and turned mushy, about 20 minutes. If needed add more water.

Meanwhile, pound or puree the garlic, chile, cilantro stems and ginger together. Add them to the cooked lentils. Scoop the coconut cream off the top of a can of coconut milk and stir into the lentils. Taste for salt and add more coconut cream if desired.

My tweaks for cooking without a kitchen: 

I like to eat this with brown rice so I put one cup of rinsed rice into my rice cooker early in the day, with two cups of water and let it soak. It takes about two hours to cook so my lovely husband turned it on when he got home and by the time I got home, there was just enough time for me to get the lentils ready. 

For the lentils, I have another rice cooker, cuisinart rice cooker and steamer, that I cooked the lentils in and I steamed some green beans on top. For the ginger, garlic, cilantro, and coconut cream, I use an immersion blender to combine them before adding them to the lentils. And I like to throw some cilantro leaves in as well.

Leftovers are great the next day and with the leftover coconut milk I like to make a breakfast smoothie in the morning with coconut milk, fresh pineapple, frozen peaches, a little agave syrup and two tablespoons of ground flax seeds.

1 comment:

  1. Deborah Madison=The BIBLE! I love this blog Erica!! Keep it up- itʻs fun, fresh and yummy.