Monday, 25 June 2012

Every day's a school day

Music, birds, Scottish culture, biology; these are some of the things I'm learning about just by being in the presence of Dave. In the morning he gets up, puts on some music, makes coffee and comes back to bed. Mornings have never been my best time and he just seems to understand that. So he talks, I listen. If he tested me afterwards I wouldn't be able to answer a single question about what he's said, but I'm beginning to notice it is sinking in. I can now distinguish between the sounds made by robins, chaffinches, and sparrows, and (from walks rather than bed chat) tell a buzzard from a gull in flight. I've learnt more about Scottish culture in the last four months than I had in the previous twenty seven years of living here. As for music, well let's just say my ears have been opened. And if that wasn't enough I'm also indulging in a bit of active self instruction too.

Since the age of six the only meat Dave's eaten is rubbish sausages and haggis. And the only fish he can stand is haddock, because it doesn't taste fishy. So, because I like to cook (and feed), I have been trying to expand my vegetarian repertoire. Luckily like me he loves spicy food and is bonkersly grateful for my efforts. Some of which have been distinctly odd. But not so today.

Today I made dal flavoured with coconut milk and Indian five spice. Which I adapted from a recipe for Murkha Dal because I didn't have the fresh ginger that recipe required, and I fancied using the five spice mix my brother gave me when we were in Kent for his birthday. We thought it a roaring success so here's the recipe should you want to try it.

Untitled Dal No. 1

1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 scotch bonnet chili (or any chili you want to use) finely chopped
1 tablespoon Indian five spice (these are the whole the spices: fennel seed, black onion seed, mustard seed, fenugreek and, I think, black mustard seed)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, you need to like it hot hot to add this)
1 teaspoon ground ginger (an inch or so of fresh would probably be even better)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
50 grams of butter
1 cup of red lentils
3 cups of water
1 tin (about 400 mils) coconut milk
1 teaspoon of salt

Melt the butter in a large pan (I used a big frying pan) and when it's hot add the five spice mix. Listen out for the mustard seeds popping and when they do add the onion and garlic. Let them catch and brown a bit then add the chili and cook for five minutes or so until it goes translucent. Add the ginger, turmeric and cayenne (if using). Cook for a minute and then add the lentils. Turn them about in the spicy butter and when they gleam add the water, coconut milk and salt. Bring to the boil, turn down to the kind of simmer where the odd bubble pops on the surface and cook for about 40 minutes. If it gets too thick add a little more water. All this can be done well in advance and reheated.

We just ate it with wraps which I'd heated in a dry frying pan, but you could serve it as part of a larger meal with other curried things, and/or rice or chapattis. I reckon hardboiled eggs would be a nice addition, as would, for the carnivorous, leftover roast chicken. Or even some sort of firm fleshed fish. You could also add a cup more water and have it as a soup.


Pat said...

Seems to me you have all the ingredients for a happy relationship. And compatibility.
Treasure it.

angryparsnip said...

I second Pats comment and I must say the Dal looks wonderful.
I freeze my fresh ginger so I always have some on hand. We use it quite often Plus it grates really easy .
You sound so lovely I am happy for you.

cheers, parsnip

Anonymous said...

How I look forward to reading your blogs now that I cannot go out much. Stevie was not one for culture thats for sure!
As a veggie myself I will try your recipe - looks good. Probably as a soup with some home made bread yum x

The Unbearable Banishment said...

There's no doubt about it! Nothing beats the honeymoon period! Hope it lasts a good many years for you. I respect the choice that vegetarians make but, Lord, I don't understand it. What a wonderful world they leave behind.

india banks said...

it sounds like the best summer school class, Eryl! happy summer & learning xx

Jenny Woolf said...

Oh, I like dal, it's such a while since I have had it. I'll try this - I put desiccated coconut in sometimes but never have tried coconut milk.

nick said...

Looks like a great dal recipe. Must try it next week when Jenny takes a trip to England.

Great that Dave is opening your eyes to so many new things. I hope you're opening his eyes as well!

Eryl said...

Pat ~ I do, I do!

Parsnip ~ thanks, I'll do that, I use ginger a lot too.

Anon ~ why can't you get out much now?

UB ~ I'm hoping that because we're past all those honeymoon ending things (mortgage, kids, general growing up) ours will last forever, like Pat's and her MTL's.

Totally agree with you regarding vegetarianism, I can't imagine choosing not to eat pasta sauce with sausage, or spare ribs, or bacon, or...

India ~ it is! And I will, thank you.

Jenny ~ desiccated coconut? I'll try that next.

Nick ~ I think I am: he seems to have lived on tinned soup and cheese for the last five years! Last night I took him to a book launch – not his usual stomping ground – and he's always saying: "you're the first woman I've known that..."

Let me know if you try the dal. Why aren't you going to England with Jenny?

Anonymous said...

Was disappointed that you took down your history of the end of a marriage ..... Without that I would have continued to believe you and your husband were long divorced as he told me. Whereas your side of the bed was still warm. And that you had the affair and he was the innocent party.

Lucky escape after a few weeks for me. I just hope the next one has also.

Anonymous said...

hmm seems there is more than one of us!
I was kept fooled for years!
but this isnt the time or place.

Eryl said...

Anon #1 ~ I'd hoped it was the particular conditions of our relationship that caused him to lie in the way he did, but from what you say it seems he could just be inherently dishonest. Why he told you he was long divorced I cannot possibly understand, you'd have to have found out the truth of that pretty quickly, blog or no blog. I took that post down so he could have a second chance and find the right woman without impediment from me. Sometimes I'm such an idiot!

Anon #2 ~ You too (no wonder he never had enough money to get the roof fixed!)? I'm beginning to wonder if I should set up a sanctuary for women injured by Steve.

Anonymous said...

I will adopt the mantle of anon 2 given the length of time the incumbent anon has been in your blog (and unwittingly in your life)

We all have our internal Pollyanna and sometimes we let her dominate over rationality. It's not you,it's our inherent capacity to believe that good will rise and conquer.

Anyway .... Far better a novel than a sanctuary, methinks......