I am finally back from my adventures abroad in Asia. After spending over five months in Thailand and Cambodia, I returned “home” to Dallas this May to spend the summer with my family. Coincidentally, but not surprisingly, my family is moving yet again this summer. My dad’s company merged with another and the corporate headquarters is changing from Dallas to Houston. Thankfully, this move isn’t taking my family overseas, but it still doesn’t minimize the magnitude of moving for an eighteenth time. It was actually when I learned about this move that I decided to spend the summer helping my family in Texas rather than returning to Charleston to work. I realized, with the help of some not-so-subtle hints from my mom, that I might actually enjoy helping my family and relaxing during my last official Summer break before graduating from college this May. Needless to say, my homecoming was brief and I quickly kicked into moving-gear and started this summer-long transition process. I cannot begin to explain the exhausting list of things to-do pre- and post- moving homes and to a different city. Let’s just say my mother is an angel and should be awarded 18 medals for “amazingness” in having to manage and orchestrate 18 moves in 25 years of marriage. These things are not easy and rarely fun.
Onto brighter things… we are officially “moved-in” to our new house in Houston, Texas. Yes there are still boxes to be unpacked and yes there are still a thousand things to do before this house finally feels like a home, but we are here and we are happy. Now that the worst is over, I have decided that my energy is best spent helping my mom with the domestic side of things. I assumed the title “Nanny Nat” during my two week stint in Dallas – when I drove my little sister Charlotte to and from school every day, ran just about every errand possible for my mom, while walking the dog daily and making sure the movers got their XL Happy Meal from McDonald’s each day. Now that Charlotte is out of school (and sleeping in until noon) and there are no more hungry movers around, I have started doing the laundry, organizing cabinets, taking Charlotte on candy runs, and finally cooking!
Cooking is the first thing to go during moves. When you have a never-ending list of things to do before a move, going to the grocery and prepping a meal is the last thing on your mind. So we have basically eaten out every meal for the past 2 weeks. While it might sound indulgent, it gets old (and expensive)… fast. So I have taken it upon myself as Nanny Nat to also prepare nice meals for my family so that they don’t have to worry about coming home late and not having a plan for dinner. I woke up with an intense craving for Dal (Indian lentil soup) this morning and couldn’t resist not having it in my mouth today. So Nanny Nat took over and decided to make a hearty batch of Dal for dinner tonight. It was so fresh and so delicious (according to my mom and Charlotte) I decided I had to share! I am sure there are a few things I would change if I had to do it over again – but this was my first attempt at Dal and let’s just say I was not disappointed one bit. I found a recipe using one of my favorite sites tastespotting.com and decided to double it since soup is one thing that can be frozen and often tastes better the second time around.
I cannot emphasize enough how simple Dal is to make, how fresh and nutritious it is, and how hearty and delicious it tastes.
Indian Lentil Soup or Methi Dal
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free / Serves about 4
* 1 tablespoon canola oil or ghee
* ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
* 2 dried chilis, left whole
* 1 small onion, diced
* 1 tablespoon minced ginger
* 1 tablespoon minced garlic
* 1 cup red lentils (or yellow lentils)
* 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
* 1 cup fresh fenugreek leaves (substitute with 2 tablespoons dried fenugreek or 1 cup of fresh spinach or both) I used a fresh bundle of spinach
* 1 tablespoon, or to taste, lemon juice
* Salt and pepper
1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add cumin and chili into the oil. When cumin sizzles, add onion and sauté on medium heat till the onion is soft. Add the ginger and garlic and cook 2 more minutes.
2. Add lentils and turmeric to the saucepan and stir. Pour 4 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover the saucepan, and simmer till the lentils are cooked, about 12 minutes. Cooking time may vary depending on the lentil you use.
3. While the dal is cooking, wash the fenugreek, pluck the leaves and tender stems, and discard the rest. Measure out 1 cup of plucked fenugreek.
4. When dal is almost done cooking, stir in the fenugreek leaves (or dried fenugreek and/or spinach), and boil for 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, and salt.
5. Serve hot with rice, pappadum, or naan.
And of course dessert, Almond Dream Chocolate with fresh raspberries and mini chocolate chips