Me to Desi: "So what would you like for dinner tonight?"
Desi: "Kuch bhi chalega" (Anything will do)
Me: How about something light, like an upma?
Desi: Mmmmm...okay. (Translation: Not really)
Me: It's too late for dosas, but what about some sambar and rice and bhaji, although you just had that yesterday.
Desi: Fine (Translation: No)
Me (hopefully): Potato chips and cookies?
Me: Okay baba, I'll just come up with something on my own, but don't complain later.
Desi: I can't promise that!
As you can tell, I don't get much help in picking out what to cook from my picky eater. And left to my own devices, I tend to think up recipes as I peer into the vegetable bin in my refrigerator at what's still there and not yet growing something.
This week, with barely an hour to put dinner together, I pulled out an uninspiring half a head of cabbage (left over after making this paruppu usili) that I knew I had to use up fast. Then I peered into my bean and lentil pantry.
Voila, a jar of whole masoor that I hadn't touched in a while!
I love masoor which is a really pretty-to-look-at and rich-flavored lentil that does extraordinarily well when teamed with vegetables and spices. So Cabbage Masoor Curry it was for dinner.And what a great idea that was!
I saved a lot of time by cooking up the masoor in a pressure cooker along with the cabbage and a few spices. The cabbage cooked up into buttery-soft goodness, and all I had to do was saute some onions and the sambar powder and add it to the dal.
So here's the recipe, and here's looking forward to the two best days of the week: Saturday and Sunday!
(Makes eight very hearty servings)
1/2 head of a large cabbage, cut into medium to thin shreds
3/4 cup whole masoor (These are round brown lentils with a pink interior that cooks up yellow-- you can easily find them at any Indian grocery store. I often see cooks confuse them with French Puy lentils, but they are not the same. Masoor is nuttier, while puy lentils are mottled and smaller and tend to be peppery-tasting.)
2 green chillies, chopped
1 tbsp grated ginger
6-7 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tomatoes, diced
1 heaping tbsp sambar powder
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp canola or other vegetable oil
Place all the ingredients other than the sambar powder, onions and canola oil in a pressure cooker and cook until really tender. If you don't have a pressure cooker, place the ingredients in a large pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, turn the heat so the mixture just simmers, and cook until the lentils are really tender (this may take almost an hour).
Heat the oil in another skillet.
Add the onions and saute until they start to brown.
Add the sambar powder and stir it to mix, about 1 minute.
Add the onions and sambar powder to the cooked masoor and cabbage.
Add salt to taste.