Monday, November 5, 2007

A Taste of India

I'm sitting at my computer breathing in the aroma of whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, curry powder, and cardamom. Experienced fiction writers tell me that in order to place your reader into the story, a writer must surround himself with the sights, sounds, and smells of his novel's setting. Since I am currently working on a four-book project in my series, Born for India, I am trying to heed the advice. Thus, for two weeks now my office has been filled with exotic aromas wafting from a basket by my chair. So strong are these spices that my tongue tinkles and throat burns, but hey, I'm actually getting used to the fragrance! I think I might even miss it if I removed the basket.
For those out there who have an affinity for Indian food, here's a recipe you might like to try.
TARKA DAL
Serves 6-8
2 tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 garlic cloves, crushed
8 fenugreek seeds
1/2 inch piece of ginger root, grated
Lots of salt
1 c. split red lentils or dal
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 1/2 c. water
2 tomaotes, chopped
1 tbsp lemon joice
4 tbsp chopped coriander (or cilantro)
3 green chilies
Heat the butter in a large saucepan and add the onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes over high heat, then add the mustard seeds. Cover the pan until the seeds begin to pop. Immediately remove the lid from the pan and add the garlic, fenugreek, ginger, salt and chilies. Stir once and add the lentils, tomato paste, and water. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, lemon juice and coriander (cilantro) and simmer for 4-5 minutes until the lentils are tender.
Serve with rice or naan bread and enjoy!
Interesting Tidbit: Cardamom, native to tropical Asia, is not only used as a spice or condiment, but also in medicine.

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