Sunday, 29 May 2011

Indian comfort food, a decade later...

India is one of those places that polarises people. Back a decade ago when I first backpacked through Rajasthan, I met an older backpacker who had been to India ten times, and had returned to study palm reading. Sensing I was a little fresh off the boat and wild-eyed at my new surroundings, she kindly had lunch with me, suggesting I try some Indian comfort food- Dal Makhani.

Dal Makhani is known as "Mother's Dal". Although their are many ways of preparing it, basically it is thick black beans or red kidney beans, cooked in a clay pot in the tandoor overnight, and served with butter and a lick of pouring cream. I ate it with fresh naan- the first fresh naan I'd ever tasted, and boiled rice. It was mild and thick and delicious, and I loved every spoonful of it.

Later, my new friend read my palm. I never believe in that sort of thing, but she made some observations that turned out to be fairly true; that I was a writer, a teacher, a traveller, I would find my true love after a false start.

Flashing forward to my second trip back to India ten years later, I had four hours in my hotel suite before heading to the airport at 1am for a 4am flight. I'd been driving since 9am, and had to get some food into me, quickly. I ordered the Dal Makhani from room service- and it didn't disappoint.

Once again,the delicate gravy of beans and lentils, lightly spiced and delicately slow cooked managed to make me feel at ease. Teased out with butter and cream, and served with rice and buttery naan, it was the perfect meal to farewell India.