|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.
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.
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.
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)