Friday, June 26, 2009

Midsummer Eve, too much party and Chana dal Masala [Spiced Split Pea Lentils]

Do you like bangers? If not, I don’t recommend you to visit Spain on the 23th June night because it’s “San Juan” —Sant Joan in Catalan, Saint Gorge in English — holiday. This holiday it’s not exclusive of Spain, though: if I am not wrong, the Midsummer Eve is celebrated in many European countries. Bonfires are lit, kids throw bangers and family and friends meet. In Catalonia and Valencia they also eat a cake called “Coca de Sant Juan” (If your wonder it… no, I don’t have a recipe, but I am already looking for one that I could veganise). But for a lot of people the best of all the holiday are the parties, especially beach parties. Bonfires are lit on the beach itself, DJs are contracted and the open-air cafés next to the beach make a fortune.

Nevertheless, the most common is something that in Spain is called “botellón”, and that my Oxford Dictionary translates as “young people’s street party”. It’s just the name for the meeting where groups of friends buy the drinks in supermarkets instead of in cafés, and drink them in the street (usually in parks). Well, Sant Joan is one of the biggest “botellón” you can find. It’s a pity that I didn’t bring the camera with me….the amount of people was incredible! The only I don’t like about it? All the garbage — and some slept people lying on it— that remains in the beach after the party =(

 I arrived at half past seven of the morning after the beach party, but strangely enough I was not sleepy at all (a coffee before leaving to the beach contributed in it), but I was starving. Nevertheless, I was not in mood for cooking, so I devoured half of a watermelon and a big bowl of breakfast cereal. My other meals were as quick and little healthy as my breakfast (trust me…at least the breakfast cereals we buy are not the healthiest way to begin your day), so yesterday I decided that it was enough and I cooked some real food.

After surviving basically on carbs, I thought that my body needed a more balanced meal. I gave a quick look to my recipes-to-try list, and immediately knew the answer: the Tried&Tasted June edition! This month the featured blog is Hooked on Heat and its author intention, Meena, is to introduce us to the real, everyday, modern Indian cuisine. Who said that Indian cuisine is difficult? Nevertheless, a quick advice from Meena: stay away from that yellow powder that most of the people call “curry”! If you want to know more, read her “How NOT to cook Indian food” post. Highly recommended!

Tried&Tasted was created by Zlamushka, of Zlamushka’s Spicy Kitchen. This month the event is hosted by “Kits Chow”. After looking among her recipes, I decided to chose a quite simple one: Chana dal Masala, or Spiced Split Pea lentils.

Chana dal Masala I won't copy all the recipe again, because I changed very few things, so you can find the recipe here

Although I tried to follow the recipe, I had to do some small modifications. For example, I didn’t have turmeric, so I added a little bit of curry powder, which has got turmeric (I know…Meena recommended not to use it. But believe it or not, but I have not found just turmeric yet =S)

Also, I didn’t have fennel seeds. Yes, you are right….I didn’t find fennel seeds either.

Despite the lack of fennel seeds and plain turmeric, I loved the result. Nevertheless, I suspect it would have been even better if I had used the omitted ingredients. The dominant but mild at the same time flavor was cumin, which as well as delicious is good for your digestion (very important when you eat beans and lentils). I am sure that I will try another of the Meena’s recipes soon =) If you can, use whole spices and grind them when needed. They will keep all they flavor and aroma. It makes the difference!


Alisa@Foodista said...

Your photos just keep getting better and better.You know you really should consider making a cooking/travel/photography book someday.Do let me know because I'll be the first to buy one :)

Kamran Siddiqi said...

First of all, I love your blog and I always love the comments that you leave on mine! Secondly, I love, love, love your photography! So professional.

Okay, now to your post. I love how you re-created Channa dal Masala into your own. Despite what others say about what to put in the dish, it's fine to use the spices that you did!

I asked my grandmother (who is a great cook from India) about your thing with the spices and she said that is would be fine to make everything the way that you did.

You not only did a phenomenal job with the photography, but from what I see you did a great job with the dish.

P.S. I am creating something on my blog called "The Sophisticated Gourmet Sunday Favorites" and I am including you in it. I will have a post up about it later on and that section of my blog will be running tomorrow morning.

Kamran Siddiqi said...

Hi, it's me, Kamran (again). I mentioned you in my latest post, so you know where to go... :D

the twins said...

that chana masala looks great, and you have such good photos!

zlamushka said...

Hi Ksenia,

You do have amazing way of constructing food pictures, logo - evrything.

Would it be rude to ask for this one as well? I will use it from next month, as this month I was traveling, when T&T July was announced and the old logo was taken :-(