Well, Hello Dally!
OK, I know that’s a terrible joke. My dreadful sense of humour aside, it’s an exciting day because we’re embarking on a brand-new adventure and stepping into the next chapter of “Good and Cheap”: Soup and Salad.
You’ll find Dal, which is the first recipe in this chapter, on page 35 of the PDF version of “Good and Cheap” (a free download at leannebrown.com) and page 21 of the print version.
Dal is one of those dishes that takes ordinary ingredients — onions, garlic, ginger & lentils — adds some unusual spices and makes magic. I used yellow split peas but there are a whole variety of lentils that can go into this recipe.
How Did it Taste?
Back in October 2015, this was the very first “Good and Cheap” recipe I ever tried out, well before I had decided to embark on a year-long blog project with it. It was enough to convince me that I was onto something potentially interesting. I really liked dal then, and I still do. It’s not hard to see how this dish became a staple of Indian home cuisine.
Show Me the Money
Dal is remarkably inexpensive. The total cost came to $2.90, or 73 cents per (generous) serving. If you have a little extra money in your food budget, add some plain yogurt or sour cream.
Meet Your Frugal Friend: Mr. Thai Chili
Jalapeno peppers regularly make an appearance in the recipes on the pages of “Good and Cheap”. But there came a point this winter when the jalapenos I was finding in the grocery store were so unappealing that I couldn’t make myself buy them. I started looking for an alternative — and into my life walked Mr. Thai Chili.
The one in the picture cost me all of 17 cents and I only used a third of it to add some heat to four servings of dal.
Now, if you decide to experiment with thai chilis, heed the immortal words of Yoda:
With great power comes great responsibility.
He’s not kidding. This tiny little pepper packs a tremendous wallop. I’ll add a few words of my own to those of the Jedi Master:
- I think thai chilis need to be cooked to make them anything less than sub-atomic. I tried serving one raw in Savory Pineapple Salad (page 30 in the print edition). It was good but so hot that I couldn’t finish it and neither could my guest. Not exactly a banner moment in my career as a hostess.
- The safest way to cut them is with kitchen scissors. If you use a knife, wash your hands right away.
- Start very conservatively and taste as you go. You can always add more but it’s pretty much impossible to subtract.
However, if you can master these mini-warheads of the vegetable kingdom, you’ll be able to add a fresh-tasting spiciness to your dishes for mere pennies. I think Yoda would be impressed.
That’s it for today. Next up is Corn Soup — which is much more interesting than the title makes it sound. See you soon!