Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Masoor dal

A lot of my friends love Indian food. In central Jersey, there's an abundance of excellent Indian restaurants, so it's easy to get a great Indian meal if you're so inclined. But Indian food is one of those things that I'm still learning to like, although I've been eating it for years. My best guess is that the complicated suites of spices and flavors confuse my palate. My favorite "ethnic" food is Japanese food, which has a limited variety of simple flavors. I love Indian breads like naan, I like tandoori chicken, I like chicken korma and navratan korma and I'm sure there are others that I'm forgetting about right now. But there are many Indian dishes that challenge my taste buds too much and leave me longing for something more "normal." I guess they pull me too far out of my culinary comfort zone.

I used to have a simplistic idea that Thai food was blazingly hot and nothing else. It took learning to cook Thai food for me to start understanding that there was much more to Thai food than heat. I have a lot to learn about Thai food and its complicated blends of flavors, but I feel like I'm going in the right direction. So I figure - if this works for Thai food, why not Indian? I should try cooking Indian food to get a better understanding of it, and maybe even learn to really like it.

I decided to try a masoor dal recipe since it is one of the quicker-cooking dals. I used the recipe in Linda Bladholm's The Indian Grocery Store Demystified. It cooked up pretty quick, as advertised, and was quite easy to put together. I had it for dinner the other night, and just finished up the leftovers for an afternoon snack. Once again, however, I find myself saying, "There's nothing wrong with it, but..." and thinking that spaghetti for dinner sounds awfully reassuring. It's kind of disappointing, in a way. It seems like admitting defeat to decide that I just don't like a lot of Indian food, especially when my friends do like it.

Oh, well. I guess I'll have spaghetti for dinner and try making chicken korma when I'm ready to jump into the fray again.

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