May 12, 2008
Dressed in my grungiest outfit, I made it to a plant nursery with hubby in tow.
I wasn’t fooling anyone. Three cries of “look honey, basil/coriander/jasmine” later, a kindly salesperson walked over with a thinly-veiled smiled and asked how he could help.
We wanted a creeper. Preferably something that grew bushy and tall. Without regular watering, sunlight or attention.
Or soil for that matter. We were talking about a three square feet, moss-ridden balcony here.
Finally we settled for a medium hedge. I brought it back and shoved it into a planter aided by a cheese slicer, kitchen scissors and amused neighbours.
Greenfingers Day, thankfully, is an annual event in my home. But I hope summer is here to stay.
With the first warm days, raw mangoes have made it to my Indian grocer cum spice shop. I made a light, sweet and sour dal made with them called Tauk Dal. The dal-making technique here involves boiling the lentils in lots of water in one go to get a watery, light texture.
Enjoy this with Basmati rice and a cool glass of Rose Blush. Preferably while gazing out of the kitchen at your new, bushy hedge.
Wash the masoor dal thoroughly in a medium pot under a cold tap, until the water runs clear. Add cold water three-quarters up the side of the pot, mix in the turmeric and bring to boil on a high flame.
In the meantime, slice the mangoes lengthwise, quarter and peel off the skin with a sharp knife.
Make sure you watch the dal so it doesn’t boil over. If it starts bubbling up, take off the flame for a few seconds. Gently skim off and discard any foam that builds up.
The lentils will go soft and squidy in 20 minutes. The water will still be seperate from them. Now, make the tadka.
Heat the oil and when it starts sizzling, add the nigella seeds, the green chillies and the raw mangoes. Fry for a few seconds until the mango is sealed and pale brown on its side.
Mix this and the sugar into the dal for about five minutes, add salt to taste, and serve. The consistency will be light and wonderfully easy on the tummy.
I’ll be trying this delicious, South Indian version of mango dal next.