In between sessions of intense research, my nerdy husband often takes a break (from the experiments, not from the nerdiness) and Googles random stuff. Some of these things are so random that he comes up with results even more inconclusive than his scientific data. For example, he knew the words Sagina Mahato but had no clue about what they might mean (it’s a Bengali movie made in the 70s). Then he realized that he knows the word khagina but again had no clue about it. Isn’t it random? He will always say “Google is your friend” or sometimes if I ask him something and he is not in a mood to answer, he’ll say “GIYF”, which infuriates me. Anyway, from “sagina” his neurotic brain went to “khagina”, which he Googled and for a change came up with something beautiful, which was a recipe for anda/egg-bhurji aka khagina on Shayma Saadat’s blog spicespoon.com. He liked the recipe (and was blown away by the looks of the blogger) and sent the link to me.
It was love at first sight. I loved her blog and after reading couple of her stories and recipes, I loved it even more. A very funny thing happened when I saw the khagina recipe on her blog. A few months ago I had almost nothing at home to eat, only leftover daal in the fridge. Usually I fry an egg to eat with the daal, but this time I made a bhurji instead, and threw in a few random things to mix with the egg. To my surprise, it was almost the exact same recipe written on her blog. How could it be possible? I didn’t even know the name khagina, never Googled it and nor had I seen the egg-bhurji recipe on the internet. I am very surprised and have no clue how to explain it. Maybe it’s a true coincidence. The day I made the bhurji, my husband liked it very much and found it very unusual. I never made it again and had no plan to make it in near future. It was a makeshift recipe for no-food-in-the-fridge days. I didn’t anticipate that my husband’s random Google searches would link me to back to my haphazardly constructed anda-bhurji in this strange way. Life is full of surprises.
I was browsing around trying to find something easy and quick to try from her blog. Finally I found this daal and decided to try it. I love daal and try to cook it every possible way. I liked the recipe soon after I read it. I liked the story behind it even more. It’s beautiful and I can literally visualize the story. If you read the recipe, please read the story….it will make the daal taste even better.
Recipe: (adapted from Shayma Saadat of Spicespoon and my mother’s recipe)
I have used both cumin and Bengali five spice as seasoning and both of them taste equally good. So, feel free to use any of them.
Mushur daal/masoor daal//red lentils: ½ cup
Mug daal/yellow lentils: ½ cup
Onion: 2 tbsp. finely chopped
Turmeric: ½ tsp.
Garlic: 2 cloves
Tomato: One medium, ripe and juicy, finely chopped
Cilantro: a handful, finely chopped
Jeera/whole cumin seeds/panchphoron/Bengali five spice: 11/2 tsp.
Butternut squash/pumpkin: 8-10 nos. cut into ¾-1 inch cubes (optional)
Green chilis: 2-3 nos., slit length wise (optional)
Dried red chilies: 2 nos.
Mustard or any other oil: 1 tbsp.
Salt to taste
- Wash the lentils with several changes of water and then drain.
- Start boiling enough water to cook the lentils in a deep bottom pot.
- Once the water starts boiling, add the lentils. Let the whole thing come to a boil again.
- Turn the heat to medium.
- While boiling the daal, spoon off any scum arising on the top of the lentils.
- Add turmeric and let the lentils get almost cooked.
- Mix the lentils with a whisk until they form a uniform consistency.
- Add the chopped tomatoes. Let the tomatoes get cooked.
- Add the butternut squash (if using) and boil for several more minutes until the squash is completely cooked and the soup reaches its desired consistency. Add water if the soup looks too thick by now. Add the green chillies too.
- Add salt and mix well.
- In a separate pan, heat up the oil. Once hot, turn the heat to low and add the garlic. Let the garlic infuse the oil.
- Turn the heat to medium and then add the jeera/cumin/Bengali five spice next and let them sizzle a bit.
- Follow with the dried chilies and let it go one shade darker.
- Add the chopped onion and sauté it for few minutes. Once you get a nice aroma of all the sautéed spices, add the whole thing to the boiling daal.
- Quickly cover the pot and turn the heat to low. Let it be like this for 5-10 more minutes.
- Add lots of chopped cilantro and serve with plain rice.
- Definitely sprinkle a generous amount of lemon juice while eating.
- Goes well with a side salad.