December 15, 2009

Sukhi Methi Dal..

Finally, I discovered the library here and my little one and I  have been haunting it ever since.  Nupur of One Hot Stove had a list of books that I had been eying curiously for some time but never found them (most of them) in my old library.  There is one hitherto unknown avenue of reading that food blogging opened up for me.  My reading list never included food related books and now a book (not recipes and cook book though,) containing foodie ventures, memoirs packed with food memories, and information about different cuisines, cultures, not about the recipes per se but more about the methods, is fascinating to me.  Obsessive, eh?

A lot of our traditional fare is dying out locally as people get enamored  by McDs and fast food, but at the same time, other people are taking up preserving some part of these undocumented culinary traditions through TV shows, writing books and best of all by cooking it. So these food books.. what genre can you call these books? They are non fiction yet so deliciously filled with details that seem unbelievable that they could pass off as fiction.

One of the books on that  reading list was Madhur Jaffery's food memoir, "Climbing The Mango Trees". (Maybe I am late in reading it in Blogosphere!!) It's a story of a child growing up in Pre and Post Independence Delhi, interlaced with the kind of childish memories we all have..eating chaats( spicy fruit salads, snacks), raw mangoes with salt and chili powder, ice creams etc, cramming for exams at school, holiday celebrations etc and a lot of  memories that most of us are really unfamiliar with. It's a bygone era in a city that has since sped towards modernization but still the book holds a lot of insight into Delhi.

Most of you know Madhur Jaffery for her acting prowess (some of them were British-Indian productions)and for her numerous(13) cookbooks( by the way, none of which I have read.:)) The book covers the first nineteen years of her life, up to the point when she leaves India for drama school in London. She grew up in a highly privileged family in Delhi, influenced by the Muslim and British set around them in the changing times. Reading the book is like standing on a stool and peeking into the window of a large, fun filled joint family, with cousins, siblings,  uncles and aunts and their myriad traditions.

One thing that struck a chord was a description of a picnic trip where 30 people were accommodated in 2 cars..15 piled into a car...mothers/ladies in the back seat, on whose laps went the 10-12 yr olds and on top of them the smaller kids.
I have a distinct memory on one such trip undertaken in my grandfather's Standard car, to Ooty to see a flower show. Counting the kids, there were easily 15 in that car.. not kidding..ask any of my cousins..The car was a hatch back and had a spacious boot, so four of us were in there.. or was it five? The three aunts went in the back seat  along with one kid squished against the door. There were 3-4 kids on their laps, the youngest ones, I think.  My grandfather drove while my uncle and two cousins sat in the connected front row( not two seats ). The flower show was a washout and there were incidents of motion sickness  but it was one fun trip. And now I have family visiting next week and I can barely fit 5 in my car !!!

So give this book a try if you like reading about such small incidents that stay far back in your consciousness only to surface eons later. Maybe I am familiar with Delhi and so liked the book and maybe a lot of you will scratch your head as to what the charm is.:))

On the same note, here is another methi recipe. I buy methi every time if its fresh and beckons to me at the Indian store and then am wondering what to do with it. This time, one of my friends suggested cooking it with moong dal to make a dry subzi. This is a side dish  for rotis that I like and makes a good filling for paranthas on day two. Now methi is a unknown leaf in Kerala and we are only familiar with its seeds(fenugreek seeds) and the slightly bitter taste needs getting used to. This is a pure non-mallu tasting dish which is sure to be disliked by most mallus.:) So try, but with hesitation if you are true blue mallu.
But in the spirit of all things Delhi, which is my frame of mind after reading this book, this is what I felt like making. :)) so take it with a pinch of salt (or garam masala).

You Will Need:
Split moong dal - 1/2 cup soaked for one hour and drained well.
Onion - 1
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece grated
Hot Green chili - 4-5 finely chopped
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 t sp
Fresh Fenugreek/ Methi Leaves - 1 cup.
Salt - as per taste
Oil - 1 tb sp
Water - 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup
Cilantro- 3 tbsp chopped
Lemon juice- 1 tsp

Heat the oil , add the cumin seeds and then add the ginger first, then the finely chopped onion and green chili.
Saute till the onion becomes translucent , then add the moong dal ( without water).  Add the methi leaves, salt and turmeric and toss. Add 1/2 cup of water, lower the flame and cover and cook for 8 minutes. Check the dal and leaves, and add 2-3 tsp of water and cover if you need it to be cooked more. It should be soft but stand apart as grains, rather like cooked rice.  Once the dal looks soft, open and stir fry for a minute to blend the flavors. Add the lemon juice, cilantro and serve.

Print This Recipe 


Divya Vikram said...

Lovely post. Discovered the book list from your post. Will be off to the library tomo!

Rekha shoban said...

wow!!looks colourful and delicious

Happy cook said...

My problem is when ever i find a good cooking book in the library ends up me buying them through the net.
I should chek our nupurs list. Love the dish i do wish we got methileaves here.

Jyothsna said...

That is pefect dal, love the pic!

indosungod said...

Shaheen, that is what Ambassador cars were meant for, to cart a whole extended family. The new fangled cars can hardly seat 5 :(

Bong Mom said...

I liked that book too and even I had never read one of her cookbooks.
This dal looks nice. I have never made a dry dal like this though I add methi to my dal.

Have fun with family

chakhlere said...

Nice to know about the book. will check out soon...methi is my very fav ingredient...this dish looks so hearty and soothing.

Anonymous said...

I've got most of Jaffrey's cookbooks, and I adore them (esp. World Vegetarian & Flavours of India). On the other hand, I wasn't overly impressed with the autobiography, actually.

Thanks for pointing out Nupur's list. Will you make your own, too? :)

Rahin said...

my mom makes methi with dal , just like this, thanks for sharing the recipe

Myra said...

I don't know what i prefer your
"Mis en bouche" or your recipes,!!!! in any case they are both very complementary j'adore. As for
Madhur Jaffery she was and still is, i imagine our Indian goddess it was her who gave us all courage to attempt to make indian food at home! shame she only stayed 2years in Enland
Lovely recipe unfortunately in my part of the world no Menthi,since i moved cannot even find fresh chillies crazy!!!! Pleased to hear you moved and lots of prime time with your family....
Yours Myra X

Mallugirl said...

Divya, i haven't read most of the books as yet, so let me know which ones u like.

Rekha,color of sunlight.:)

happy cook, nah, no need to buy the book, its a fun read though. i still haven't used it for any recipes.

jyo, when are u getting back to blogging?

indo, love the spaciousness of the old ambassador.:))with all the seatbelts and car seats, we are safe now though not together.

Mallugirl said...

Sandeepa, saw that u made a chicken from this book. gives me courage. somehow i always thot the cookbooks are too simplified and westernised.

maninas, u have to understand some of the quirkiness of indians to appreciate the book. else its just another memoir. as for my list.. u got me started onto something now..

chaklere, do try if u like methi.

rahin , do u have any differences in the method or is it the same?

Mallugirl said...

myra, aw, i am glad that MJ initiated Indian food in the western world, else u wouldn't be here, right?

crispus said...

Hi Malabar Spices! Lovely post and i abs lov reading those kinda books...and just as u said..there's something so charming abt Delhi..i read the Madhur Jaffery book & its one of my fav till date..and now im gonna see if there's this book i'm trying to find out whose author's name i forgot..she's Indian(from Madras) US based and her first cooking was done to convince her family to send her to US for higher studies - her book is all those memories and i think recipes too..Once again ur post is great! :)

Maheswari said...

Nice Post and sikhi dal looks yum.Visting after a long break..Have to catch up.Loved the new layout.

Chef Jeena said...

This looks wonderful, so aromatic.

Saju said...

wow nice post and wonderful recipe..i love reading but now days no time with the little one ...i am still to find a library here..everyday il think today is the day to but something always comes up////
pinne no fresh mathi daa//frozen thanne vanganam...aahh enthellam karaynagal miss cheyyunnu ivide ayath kond!!!

Nupur said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed that book! I completely agree with you- it is those small insignificant events in life that stay with us for a lifetime.

sowjanya said...

We call this something similar- kosumbari and grated carrots and cucumber..methi adds color and its simple, satisfying dal.

Kulsum said...

Your Pictures are great....I make it in a similar way as well !

Srivalli said...

Shaheen, good to read your post..I make the same way..funny I have never posted on the blog..:)...will have to read some of these food memoirs sometime..its been a while since I have read some book, let alone step into a library..good that you and your lil one are enjoying the read!..

Mandira said...

Never made a dry dal like this shaheen. Looks fab. Happy New Year to you and your family.

Kitchen Flavours said...

Love the post.....this is something new with methi leaves to to try this soon....

Jayashree said...

Shaheen, I think most of us who grew up in India will have memories of piling into ambassadors or fiats.....i was the one who almost always got(had) to sit on someone's lap :-))

Asha said...

Happy 2010 girl. Hope you are having fun there. Wish you the best! :))

Methi dal is yummyyyyyy!!!

shahana said...

Really enjoyed your writeup n ur healthy methi dal.

MR said...

very healthy dish
nice post

Linda said...

Happy New Year, Shaheen! Hope you're coming back to blogging soon. I have this book and have been skipping around in it, as I usually do. I love tales and recipes in one book :)

Methi dal looks great for a chilly evening and we're having plenty of those, yes?

Hope all is well :)

Deepa G Joshi said...

i love dal methi..the snap looks tempting too..

lan said...

long time no news? hope you are all having a wonderful year.

Geeta said...

Happy New Year. Enjoyed my visit to your blog as always, the tales and the recipe.
For those who can't get methi, 'kasoori methi; is dried methi leaves in a box. Caution: use very few as it gives a strong taste.

Yasmeen said...

Nutritious dal,my mom used to make this kind of sukhi dal.
Enjoyed reading the post.I'll check out the book here.And also bookmarked nupur's interesting list.:D