James Joyce's last words were "Does nobody understand?" I ocassionally think of this while trying to make plans with friends and family members. Despite, (or is it because of?) the ease of text messages, emails, Facebook postings, tweets, and other means of staying in touch, communicating with loved ones can be a little bit like modernist literature: utterly confusing.
So it was over the weekend, when plans with old friends suddenly coalesced around a midday walk in the park with the kids. To any ordinary human, this might seem perfectly sensible, but it sent my mind racing. I quickly wondered, “What will we eat? What can I serve them?”
Because I’m constantly obsessing about food, my larder is almost always well stocked (after my trip to the store this week, Santa Maria started a new shopping list with the words “NO MORE CHEESE” written atop it). After a moment’s thought, I conjured a quick answer: my old favorite, spicy red-lentil dhal. It takes less than an hour to make, and, after all, I already had a pot of rice cooked, and waiting, in the fridge.
- Olive oil
- 1 onion quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- 2 bay leaves
- One 2 inch or so cinnamon stick
- 2 teaspoons (or more) of minced fresh ginger
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 dash of cayenne pepper
- 2 cups small red lentils, about a pound, rinsed
- 1 lemon, halved and juiced (seeds removed)
- 3 or 4 cups of chicken stock
- 3 or 4 cups of hot water
- 1 teaspoon salt