Dolphins welcomed us into Norfolk, Virginia. After a long night sail through a busy shipping channel I was especially delighted to see our marine friends. Traveling for so long on the Erie Canal we hadn’t seen dolphins in months. Having a pod gamboling around our bow, guiding our entrance into Virginia the open ocean seemed so near. The Bahamas were just around the corner.
But not yet. The chill air billowed in great puffs as we breathed. Weren’t we in the South yet? The local accents certainly belied the chill weather. But Norfolk was just a stopover. Tomorrow we started our journey down the ICW. Just to whet the appetite we got our first swing bridge, an enormous bridge that swung aside so that we could pass. The mechanics of such an enormous structure moving aside for boats to pass many times a day was incredible. Bridges had moved on the Erie Canal, lifting up a little but nothing on this scale. It was like a transformer!
Everyone I told we were taking the ICW gaped at me. “You’re going down the ditch?” they would ask.
We wanted to see a little more of the US, I would reply. I adore blue water sailing, crossing oceans and visiting exotic locations, but I like trying different things. Still, I was starting to wonder about the ICW given the regularity of the negative reaction. Even if the ICW didn’t have the excitement of ocean sailing, it would be interesting to see a little bit of the Southern United States.
Given that this was (hopefully) one of our last chilly days I wanted to make the most of it. After a long, chilly night passage a hearty stew seemed like the way to go. We hadn’t had lentils for ages, and (spiced well, of course) lentils are unquestionably one of my favorite legumes. And my favorite form is dahl.
Indian food is unquestionably one of my favorite cuisines. After several months traveling in India, learning spicing and seasoning from wonderful women, I came to appreciate it so much more.
Dahl, staple in Indian cuisine, dahl makes excellent boat food for the chilly night at sea. Hot, fast, and packed with protein this
Dahl, dal, or daal, is an Indian dish made from lentils. Actually it’s any Indian dish made from lentils as dahl actually means lentils in Hindi. But the most common one is a thick soup or stew made from yellow lentils. Like any stew it is better the second day because the flavors have longer to disperse.
In fact, refrigerating the dahl and serving a bit of it (with 5 or 6 other dishes, bread, and rice) over the course of several days is traditional in Indian homes. Dahl never lasts that long around me though. I tend to serve it as a main dish rather than one of a vast array of dishes. This recipe does make quite a bit though so you can certainly keep it around for at least a day or two.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- ½ t mustard powder
- 1 ½ cups red lentils
- 1 T vegeta (or other soup stock)
- 8 cups water or vegetable stock
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- T grated ginger
- 2 tomatoes chopped
- 2 t ground cumin
- 1 t turmeric
- 2 t garam masala
- 1 T lemon juice
- 1 t salt
- ½ t ground black pepper
- 1 t 7 chili seasoning (or cayenne)
- Fry onion and garlic in oil in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add the cumin seeds and mustard powder stirring until onions and garlic coated
- Cook for 5 minutes
- Add the lentils, water, and vegeta stir well.
- Stir in ginger and tomato and cook until the lentils are soft, approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Throw in the remaining ingredients and simmer another 5 minutes.
- Mix well before serving.
You can serve this with rice or by itself, but I prefer it with rice.