Post Christmas Blues

You will maybe have noticed that I haven’t written for a while.  To be honest, I got fed up of extolling the virtues of soup (which I still love) and I simply couldn’t think of anything else that I wanted to eat.  I had a wonderful Christmas at home with all of you, followed by a lovely New Year in Canada with Tom and George.  Coming back here wasn’t what I wanted at all.  I don’t mind cold weather, but what I really hate about this city is the fact that the drains don’t work.  They are old and cannot cope with the amounts of snow that have been dumped in recent weeks.  So as the weather warmed slightly and the snow started to melt, there were enormous puddles everywhere.  I know this but even so the depth of the puddles can be a surprise.  This will probably never be sorted out because of a resistance to paying the extra taxes necessary to update the drainage.  Anyway, once I started thinking that maybe I could write about something that wasn’t soup, I got myself into that cycle of ‘well this is going to have to be a pretty good post after all this time’ and not actually writing anything.  So thank you, Daisy, for texting me this morning and asking if I could give her a recipe (more of that later).

What have I done since Hell froze over?  Well we’ve had visitors, and a jolly good time we had too with John and Eric.  We went shopping and walked and ate and walked and drank and walked even more.  Great fun!  I have also re-started my classes and I seem to have overestimated my capabilities.  I am doing Spanish on Monday evenings; exploring the Metropolitan Museum on Tuesday afternoons; French contemporary conversation on Wednesday lunchtimes; Catalan on Thursday afternoons.  I have been full of how I wouldn’t confuse the languages – well, no, it’s sort of true but basically French comes more naturally to me, and I really have to concentrate on the others.  I am enjoying myself though and am busy for the first time since I came here.  I am still going to the gym very regularly and have lost the 4 lbs gained over Christmas.  Sadly, I’ve discovered that I just need to look at a glass of alcohol to put on a pound, but I live in hope!

Last Thursday, my friend Lorna and I went to explore the newly refurbished City Hall, built in the early 1800s and one of the oldest buildings in NYC.  The tour was free courtesy of the Mayor and we enjoyed ourselves very much.  It amused me to see New York referred to as Novi Eboraci on the seal – somehow I didn’t expect them to use Eboracum.


City Hall – look at the blue blue sky – this is typical of New York


The inside of the cupola – not a great photo but you get the idea


The Council Chamber


And this amused me a lot – apparently it was misplaced for a while and so that it wouldn’t happen again, this was stencilled onto the desk.

So back to today’s recipe – I was woken up today by a text from Daisy asking if I had any recipes that include red split lentils.  My immediate thought was to text back and ask if she likes dahl (dal, daal, dhal are all alternative spellings).  Daisy doesn’t know but she’s willing to try!  One of the culinary surprises in India for me was how prevalent dahl is.  When we travelled around Rajasthan, we had dahl in some form with every dinner.  Basically dahl is a dish made mainly with lentils but also chickpeas or split peas, which is served just with rice, or with other dishes.  I really like dahl, but often find that there is too much food if we order it in an Indian restaurant.  Anyway, here for Daisy, is Red Lentil Dahl.  Madhur Jaffrey has been my guiding light with Indian cookery for many years now and this is her recipe

Red Lentil Dahl – Ingredients

  • 8 oz / 225 gm red lentils
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp oil or clarified butter
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 small dried chillies
  • Half small onion, thinly sliced
  • Half large clove of garlic, thinly sliced


Wash the lentils well in water, drain and put into a large pan.  Cover with a pint / 750 ml cold water and bring to the boil.  Skim off the grey scum and remove.

When boiling, stir in the turmeric, turn down the heat to the lowest, and partially cover the pan.  Cook for 40 mins.  Check and stir occasionally.  Add more water if you think it is sticking or is getting too thick.

Heat the oil and add the cumin and chillies.  When the chillies are crisp, add the onion and cook until browned.  Add the garlic and lightly brown.  Immediately pour into the lentils and cover completely.  Turn off the heat.  Eat.


2 thoughts on “Post Christmas Blues

  1. Email from George – its funny that in your blog you talk about having not written partly because you’d only be putting up soup recipes, but i wanted you to know that i made curried parsnip yesterday and it was gooooood. Leo said it may have been the best soup we’ve done so far. i wanted to share a secret though. I added some lardons, dry fried them until they were s[o]uper crispy, used a napkin to soak up some oil and then put them in the soup, on top of sour cream and some homemade croutons.

    ive been experimenting with croutons like there’s no tomorrow, i’ve been making them flavoured! curry , salt and pepper, garlic and paprika are the flavours ive made so far.

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