Like a lot of vegetarians I cottoned onto lentil dhal pretty early on, in my case via Rose Elliot’s “Cheap & Easy” vegetarian cookbook (see inset photograph of authentically stained and loose-leafed recipe page). Like most of the recipes in the book it was very much avec-training-wheels cooking, using the ubiquitous red lentil, garlic, onion, chilli, cumin, turmeric and creamed coconut, and ready to go in 30 minutes. However “Cheap & Easy” did What It Said On The Tin and kept me sustained with economic yet spicy protein for quite a while, before I eventually tired of it and moved onto other styles of cooking.
Since then I’ve discovered that there is indeed more than one lentil available in the world, and as such I’m going to be trying out a few different types and recipes of Dhal. First up, mung dahl, comforting and creamy but with an enlivening burn of fresh green chillis. Original recipe can be found simmering away here….
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Had a go at the http://www.vedgedout.com Not-Beef-Stew recipe by Somer, which was rather fab, to the point that I’ve had to freeze the remainder of it so I don’t keep nicking bits from the tupperware container in the fridge. Additionally, one of my work-colleagues has very kindly given me some old vegetarian cookbooks, as he was having a bit of a clear-out.
These are of 1970s/1980s vintage and are therefore somewhat worthy, and a bit hilarious from the modern point of view, terribly spoilt as we are by the incredible range of foods and cultural influences available in 2013 Britain. Look, The Brown Rice Cookbook!!
(Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for wholegrains, but seriously, an entire cookbook devoted to brown rice…!)
Plus photography so 1970s that you can practically taste the flared trousers and wife-swapping parties….
I think “Cooking without Meat” (publ. 1973! I wasn’t even born in 1973!) is likely to be the more useful of the two; it does a lot of stocks and sauces and side dishes and bits and pieces that could be easily adapted or added to the dishes I do now. Watch this space! “Vegetarian Dinner Parties” (1983) is an interesting Cold War museum piece, but most of the dishes are already vegetarian standards, if not cliches, so I’m keeping it just for amusement value. It’s divided up by chapters on the various vegetarian world cuisines, and I have a nasty feeling that most of the “Eastern European” section concerns countries that unfortunately no longer exist…..!
All this literary criticism has left me little time to do much cooking of my own, so here’s a cheap and easy cliche of my own, especially when the local supermarket is doing two large tins of the main ingredient for a quid….sweetcorn fritters.