THE COWBRIDGE FOOD & DRINK FESTIVAL: DAHL, A LIFE SAVER
I have just returned from a lovely weekend in Cowbridge, Wales, where I was asked to be a guest speaker and to do a cookery demonstration at their bustling food and drink festival.
It is the sort of food event I really like. Genuinely local and run by volunteers from the town under the keen eye of chief organiser Polly Wilson. There were over 70 stalls with lots of extra events going. I was delighted to find there was also a small beer festival specialising in Welsh ales.
I was slightly less pleased to find out that my room for the night in the pub was directly above the marquee for the beer festival. I did manage to squeeze in a few hours sleep and woke refreshed and excited for my first ever cookery demo. Polly had asked me to show everyone how to make the Majumdar family Life Saving Dahl and, when I saw the blustery weather and sheeting rain that morning, the warming dish of spicy dahl seemed like the perfect antidote to the gloom.
Unfortunately, the weather played havoc with the demonstration truck. The awning whipped away in the strong winds and also managed to blow out most of the burners on the stove while I was cooking. The day's presenter, local TV star, Frances Donovan, did her best to keep things going, but in the end, I had to retire to the town hall and finish off cooking the dahl there. The audience were very patient, and by the time I returned there must have been over fifty people waiting for a sample of my favourite comfort dish.
As you can see from the last picture, it all soon disappeared.
Quite a few people asked for the recipe, so here it is once again. It is well worth trying as indeed is the Cowbridge Food & Drink Festival well worth supporting.
DAHL (Bengali dahl with lemons)
1 cup of red lentils (toasted first in a dry pan. I use my fingers to stir and when it is too hot to touch, it is done)
1 unwaxed lemon chopped in quarters
1 onion sliced in half moons
2 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves garlic
3 fresh green chillis
2 inches of fresh peeled ginger
1 tsp each of ground turmeric/ginger/cumin/coriander seed/hot chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 Bag of spinach (washed)
1 ½ pints of water, chicken stock or vegetable stock
Make two pastes by blending the ginger/garlic together and blending the fresh chillis separately with a little salt and water.
Put 2 tblspoons of oil into a hot pan and when it comes to heat, add the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick. Cook for 1 minute on a low heat until they release their flavour.
Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften.
Add the ginger/garlic paste and cook for two minutes until it loses its raw taste.
Add the chilli paste and cook for two minutes until it looses its raw taste.
Add the ground spices, sugar and salt and mix well with the onions and cook out
for 4 mins until the spices lose their rawness. If the mixture begins
to stick add a little water.
Add the lentils and mix well so all the pulses are covered with the mixture
Add 1 1/2 pints of water or stock and the quatered lemons and simmer for 30 mins until the lentils have broken down. Add more water if it sticks. Some lentils may take a little longer to cook, but they should be reduced to a porridge like consistency
Add the spinach and allow to wilt in the residual heat of the dahl
The end result is quite a watery dahl which is great served over peeled hard boiled eggs