Recently I agreed to teach my friend, a professor I’ll call Dr. D (he is private/paranoid), how to cook. Today was our first session. Although I provided him with a few recipes I thought sounded promising, they were too far outside of Dr. D’s comfort zone. He wanted Indian food, so that’s what we made. I was expecting to find a stack of cookbooks in his kitchen, but instead was greeted with a manila folder full of recipes scrawled on looseleaf, and some that looked as though they had been typed on a typewriter. Most of them were his mother’s recipes as transcribed by Dr. D. Unfortunately, during the transcription process, all quantities and preparation methods were omitted, leaving “recipes” which consisted only of hyphens connecting ingredients, a linear list which required a lot of guesswork. Thankfully, we made a lot of good guesses.
I made spinach sauteed with onions, ginger, garlic, and green chilies. I sprinkled in a crushed seed blend (mustard, fennel, and cumin, all of which I bashed into submission with a hammer) while the onions were cooking. Then I browned some raw cashews in ghee, tossed them with garam masala, and stirred them into the spinach. I had never tasted anything like this before! The spinach was flavorful on its own, but the cashews sort of caramelized in the ghee–the flavor was incredible. Also pictured is a simple moong dal with green chilies, tomato, and onion, topped with some fresh cilantro and served over basmati rice. Our improvised lunch turned out to be delicious!
As a parting gift, I also received some Indian snack food, fried moong dal:
These are good on their own, but I want to use them in a recipe. They’re light, crispy, and salty; I’m imagining them as some sort of topping.