Everyone has their own definition. To my Turkish friend it means “sarma” (Stuffed grape leaves), my American colleague describes it as mac ‘n cheese, and my South Indian blogger friend finds comfort in a bowl of “Rasam, rice and a dollop of ghee.” There is no incorrect answer. It is the food in with which we associate our childhood memories and find comfort right after eating it.
Let’s say you had a bad argument with your boss, you failed miserably on a test or your family disappointed you, won’t you crave for a comforting meal? We always seek comfort while dining with of our loved ones. Doesn’t this always improve our mood?
If you haven’t noticed, they always seem to have the highest carbs and the easiest to prepare.
My comfort food has always been Dal, mashed potato, rice and eggplant fritters. I am sure you know about my potato addiction. My husband even calls me “Mrs. Potatohead.” It is high in carbs but some days you just need it.
When I was growing up my parents and I used to visit relatives. When they asked me what I wanted to eat I always replied, “dal and mashed potato.” I was known as a fuss free kid because my demands were so easy to satisfy. But none o my relatives would listen and made chicken or fish instead. Who would feed dal and mashed potato to his guests?
I am going to tell a short story before I dive into the recipe.
One day in 2012, my mom and I were traveling from Idaho to Buffalo. We woke up at 5 am, left the hotel and drove to Salt Lake City where we took a lot of pictures. Then we took an afternoon flight from Salt Lake City to Buffalo with a layover in Phoenix, Arizona. The entire flight took about 14 hours and we arrived home around midnight. I asked my mom if she wanted to eat out. Mom replied, “No, I want to make dal, mashed potato, and poppy seed paste (posto bhate).” That was the best meal I ever had. It just made my day. Our exhaustion from traveling was gone in a moment, and I went to sleep with profound contentment.
We go to high-end restaurants all the time, but nothing can compare to this comfort food of mine. What is your comfort food?
I have used ‘panchforon’ to make my dal. This is a very common spice in a Bengali household, you can find it in any Indian grocery.
We never add salt while boiling lentil, because it slows down the boiling of lentil.
I made mashed potato two ways – one using raw onion and the other one using fried onions. Mustard oil is heavily used in Indian cooking. You can get mustard oil in grocery section of Indian Food Market.
- Masoor Dal
- 1 1/2 cup red lentil, washed and drianed
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon panchforon
- 1 whole dried red chile
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- salt to taste
- Mashed Potato
- 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, boiled and peeled
- 1 red onion, half finely chopped, half sliced
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons mustard oil
- 1 dried red chile, whole
- Eggplant fritters
- 1 eggplant, roundly sliced
- salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 cup chickpea flour
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1. In a soup pot, add red lentil, water and turmeric. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the pan. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
2. Meanwhile, in a non-stick pan, over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add panchforon, red chile and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they sizzle. Add onion slices and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they turn golden brown. Tip the spices into the lentil mixture and stir well. Add salt and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the spices are blended.
Using raw onions
1. In a bowl, add potatoes, onion and a generous pinch of salt.
2. In a non-stick pan, over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add red chile and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they sizzle. Tip the spices into the potato mixture and mash well.
Using fried onions
1. In a bowl, add potatoes, and a generous pinch of salt.
2. In a non-stick pan, over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add red chile and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they sizzle. Add onion slice and cook it for 4 to 5 minutes stirring continuously, or until they turn golden brown. Tip the spices into the potato mixture and mash it well.
1. In a bowl, add roundly sliced eggplants, salt and turmeric. Set it aside for 6 to 7 minutes.
2. In a shallow plate, add flour. Dip the eggplant in the flour mixture and set it aside in another plate.
3. In a non-stick pan, over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add eggplant pieces and cover it. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes. Open cover and flip eggplant to cook on other side for 4 to 5 minutes. Add more oil if needed. Repeat until you are done with all eggplant slices.
Serve with dal, mashed potato, eggplant fritters and rice. Enjoy!