Wednesday 26 October 2016

Food, Music, Food, Music, Food, Music... Ad Infinitum

Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

Autumn is here. And you all know what that means. As it is customary most posts until early December will be autumn-scented. This one tonight is autumn-cooked. And who else but Nigel Slater to open the autumn celebrations? As you all know, I am a big fan of Slater's recipes and I cannot wait to cook this one.

The recipe

Soak 125g of moong dal – skinned and split mung beans – for 30 minutes in warm water.
Peel and roughly chop 1 medium onion, then cook it in 30g of melted butter over a moderate heat until translucent. Add 1 tbsp of mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop, then stir in 1 crushed clove of garlic. Peel and grate a 50g lump of ginger, stir into the onions then add a finely chopped red chilli. Continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
Stir in the contents of a 400g can of chopped tomatoes and a can of water and bring to the boil. Season with salt and black pepper then stir in the soaked and drained mung beans and leave to cook at a calm simmer for 30 minutes. Check the liquid level regularly. Lastly, stir in 1 tbsp of garam masala.
Place 2 large, flat mushrooms in a foil-lined oven dish. Baste them all over with 50g of melted butter, the juice of 1 lemon and 5 tbsp of water. Season, then scrunch the edges of the foil together to loosely seal. Bake in a preheated oven at 200C/gas mark 6 for about 20-25 minutes, basting as necessary.
Check the dal for seasoning, then divide between 2 large bowls, place a baked mushroom on top and spoon over any baking juices. Enough for 2.

The trick

Soaking the moong dal reduces the cooking time considerably, but it is not entirely necessary. It is worth keeping an eye on the liquid levels while they are cooking should you choose not to pre-soak the beans, topping up with a little vegetable stock or water as necessary.

The twist

Use small brown lentils instead of mung beans. Instead of serving with baked mushrooms use the dal as a stuffing for baked aubergines, stirring the aubergine flesh into the dal as it cooks.

The music to go with this hearty recipe has to be equally warm. That is why I open with a favourite of mine. Never mind that he is eighty-something and getting on a bit. He has a new album out and to me Leonard Cohen is autumn. Especially when he is a "Marianne" mood.

It is a mystery to me as to why Cristina Branco is not better known as the outstanding fado singer she is. After all, she is just as good as Mariza, the "queen" of this popular Portuguese musical genre. Well, you can see for yourselves now.

A decade-old tango re-worked as a flamenco melody. What is not to like about it? Especially when performed by none other than Estrella Morente. Listening to this song reminds me of the sound of dry leaves as you step on them in autumn. What a gem.

I know what you're thinking. I do not play a lot of what could be considered "mainstream" music on my blog, but occasionally I make exceptions. I have never owned a The Corrs record but I certainly like a few of their songs, especially the singles. This one is one of them. Love the autumnal feeling it leaves me with.

Next Post: "Thoughts in Progress", to be published on Saturday 29th October at 6pm (GMT)


  1. Looks tasty because I love homemade cooked beans in the oven :)))

    Only familiar with Cohens Marianne..Brings back alot of student times memoreis!

    ok thank you for the view and wish you a great evening!


  2. I think even I could cook this.

    And many thanks for the Leonard Cohen track. I have just parted company from all my LPs, so it's wonderful to be reminded why I bought them in the first place!

  3. That dish looks fantastic. We had Cuban food in Key West and enjoyed it tremendously. Hopefully we'll be able to enjoy the food in Cuba some time soon.

  4. I love the Leonard Cohen and Cristina Branco videos! Thank you so much for sharing! And this is the first time I have heard of mung beans...although I have tried many different beans before. The presentation is colourful and attractive! Thank you so much for sharing, your post has made my day. :)

  5. Some good tunes to stir up the fall and food to have a ball.

  6. I LOVE Nigel Slater. I cook from his book often, but nowhere near as good the man. The book is worth it just for the exquisite pictures of the food. Sometimes look at it just as an art book.
    Music for a rainy day - thanks.
    (keeping it short, bless my heart.)

  7. Me gusta cuando nos dejas tu cocina muchas veces desconocida para mi y con buena música.
    Un abrazo.

  8. If I attempted to prepare this dish, I am certain it would end in disaster .... but, if you invite me to dinner, CiL, I will gladly accept a plate or two (or three) -- saving room for dessert, of course. It looks and sounds delicious.

    As a side note, I learned today the Brigade 2506 Veteran's Association has endorsed Donald Trump for president. It is the organization's first presidential endorsement in its fifty-five year history. I assume you recognize the group by name, the survivors among the Cuban exiles who landed at the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961, in a failed attempt to take Cuba back from Fidel Castro. It will be interesting to see how the Florida vote goes this time among the Cuban community.

  9. YUMMO. At any time of the year. I hadn't thought of adding a mushroom and will definitely try that. Thank you.

  10. My taste buds are working overtime. Thanks for the recipe, Cuban, I might just have a go at it. Wish me luck!

  11. I do love dahl! Looks delicious.

  12. wow, that is some colorful dinner. :)

    Leonard Cohen, always good to listen to.

  13. Hi ACIL - loved the Leonard Cohen clip, but especially Cristina song ... wonderful isn't she. However all four were fascinating to listen - and I'd love to come home tonight and have that meal .. looks delicious ... and Nigel Slater makes life easy for us to follow his ideas .. cheers Hilary

  14. I've done a lot of cooking for a lot of years, but I've never heard of putting whole mustard seeds into a pot until they "popped." Interesting. Sounds like a super recipe. Very stick-to-the-ribs kinda stuff. (sigh) If only it wouldn't also stick to my hips and belly. :)

  15. Amazing Estrella Morente, as usual. I'm sure you meant something else instead of "a decade old" tango (Volver), as it's "almost" a century old, lol!

    Love that song. Actually I've got one of the lines of the song in my blog's cover...

    Un placer leerte, siempre.

    1. Thanks for your comment. Como siempre, bienvenida.

      When hyphenated, nouns turned into adjectives in English lose the "s" generally. Therefore "decade-old" means decades old. I know that some writers leave the "s" in (that includes English-speaking natives) but I am just going by my lessons back in uni (and I had English=speaking natives as post-graduate teachers). For example, a "century-old" conundrum refers to a puzzle that is centuries old. Same with "Volver". It's almost 100 years old, therefore it's decades old, or a "decade-old" tango. :-)

      Saludos desde Londres.

  16. I'm a Nigel Slater fan and will enjoy this! Best to you.

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