I have entered into that time when, in order to kinda sleep comfortably, I require pillows all around my incredibly uncomfortable rubenesque body. A time when attempting to have intimate moments with my husband, ends up as a physical comedy routine filled with laughter. A time that I no longer walk but – wait for it – waddle. I can not believe I have another 6 weeks to go and I am actually gonna get bigger! Oy.
When I was pregnant with my son I thought I’d be one of those fit pre-natal yoga types, remaining active and supple. But in the 1st trimester, I was so nauseous that any movement made me even sicker. In my 2nd trimester, my growing belly made those yoga positions quite uncomfortable and I kept injuring myself due to this hormone called Relaxin – which helps the whole body become looser and prepare for birth but it also makes your joints prone to over extending and for me I ended up with a painful sciatic situation. Let’s just say I stopped trying to be that fit yoga pregnant woman I thought I’d be. Deep relaxing breaths, easy stretches and walking the dogs. That was about the extent of my exercise regime and I was fine with it.
But now, in this final stretch of this preganacy, walking the dogs has even become challenging. I am utterly and simply exhausted. Not to mention, my foggy pregnancy brain (which is documented as a known thing amongst the pregnant folk thankfully!) has been in full effect. The other morning I made a batch of my tried and true banana muffins, a recipe I have made countless times as I am one of those people who can not walk past 3 overripe bananas without either making a banana bread or banana bread muffins. My point: I can make this recipe in my sleep. But the other morning, when I opened the oven to take them out at there allotted time, I quickly realized something didn’t look quite right. They were undercooked and hadn’t risen. I racked what little I have left in my brain and realized I had not only used baking powder instead of baking soda but also forgot to add the eggs!
But, I digress… this post is not about my banana muffin recipe.
Pretty much all throughout these past few trimesters, I have craved spicy foods. I even sprinkle some sort of chili flake on just about everything. However, during these past few weeks too much spice has been upsetting my (now) very sensitive HUGE tummy. But even though spicy food isn’t settling well with me, it’s still what I desire.
So now, I have turned the corner into the soothing warming spices found so beautifully in the Indian realm. This recipe was very much inspired by the always inspiring chef David Tanis and his article in the NY times dining section a few weeks ago, The How and Why of Dal. And when my eye passed the large mason jar filled to the brim with yellow spilt mung beans in my kitchen, that was that. I took that inspiration and made this Dal my own. Still had to sprinkle a little bit of ground chili on top. As a garnish. Just a little.
As Julia Childs famously said, “Everything in moderation including moderation”.
Homemade Curry Powder
Toasting your spices always adds another depth of dimension in your dish. But if you don’t have any whole spices on hand, by all means skip this step and use you favorite store bought curry powder or garam masala for this homemade one in the Dal below.
2 TB coriander seeds
1 TB cumin seeds
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp dried ginger root or 1 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 TB ground turmeric
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Combine coriander, cumin, cinnamon, fennel, black peppercorns and ginger root (if using the ground ginger don’t add now – add along with the turmeric below) in a small skillet over a medium flame and toast spices, stirring them around a bit with a wooden spoon so they don’t burn, for about 2 minutes until fragrant.
Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes. Add toasted spices along with the turmeric and red pepper flakes to a spice grinder or mortar. Grind to a powder.
Store in a airtight glass jar for up to a month.
Golden Mung Bean Dal
Red lentils can substituted instead of the split mung beans as well as store bought curry powder or garam masala for the homemade curry powder. I have found that this gets better after a day or so in the fridge making it a wonderful to make ahead to enjoy later. It will be quite thick when reheating so you will want to add a splash more water to get the consistency you desire. Serve with steamed basmati rice, warm naan or a nice piece of toasted whole grain bread.
1 cup yellow spilt mung beans, soaked for a few hours in cold water, drained and rinsed
5 cups filter water
3 slices of fresh ginger root, peeled
2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
1/2 medium yellow onion, peeled
1 bay leaf
2 TB coconut oil, ghee(clarified butter) or extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium celery stalk, diced,
1/2 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 1/2 tsp sea salt or more to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon
handful of cilantro leaves, chopped
In a pot, over a medium-high flame, combine the soaked mung beans and 5 cups filtered water and bring to a boil. Reduce the flame to a simmer, skim off the white foam that rises to the top then add the ginger root, garlic, onion and bay leaf. Cover pot, stirring occasionally, until beans are very tender and falling apart, about 1 hour.
Using some handy tongs, remove the ginger root, garlic, onion and bay leaf. Stir in 1 tsp of sea salt and remove from heat.
In a medium skillet, melt the coconut oil or ghee over a medium flame. Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, 1 TB homemade curry powder and a nice pinch of sea salt. Saute for about 8 minutes carefully mix into the pot of cooked mung beans. Turn the flame on to a medium-low heat and cook, uncovered, for another 10 minutes or so until flavors incorporate nicely.
If you desire a smooth consistency (as I do) then wait for the Dal to cool before blending it in a blender or use a hand blender directing in the pot until desired consistency is achieved. Pour back into the pot and stir in the juice of half a lemon. Taste, adding a few pinches more salt if necessary.
Transfer to serving bowl or individual soup bowls. Sprinkle with a nice amount of freshly chopped cilantro leaves and some red chile powder.