TL;DR West Coast takes a take a stab at recreating a cultural dish.
Recipe: The final result is a Indian and French fusion Daal (Yellow lentils) that was built from a pork broth, layered with lentils and french vegetables, topped with a spicy Tadka (Indian chili oil) and shredded pork.
So the idea with this inspiration is to find something that is culturally significant and recreate it using my style and influences.
Childhood is a great source of inspiration. When we are kids we are the most malleable and simple things such as a meal we ate can leave lasting impressions–stronger than the flavor is the memory we attribute to a meal.
You often see chefs bringing out a staple home dish they ate growing up and recreating it in their own or new ways and this is the direction of inspiration I will follow.
Home cooked meals usually aren’t extravagant. I grew up eating Indian food which was largely lentils and vegetables; despite my carnivorous outlook on life, meat wasn’t cooked too often. Daal was one of those dishes that was usually part of the meal and in Indian cuisine we have a multitude of Daals. My favorite was Yellow Daal which is a fairly regular everyday Daal, but due to the different ingredients involved has a lot of room for versatility. Even to today, when I am craving indian food or feeling home sick, Yellow Daal is my go-to.
- Pressure cooked lentils with spices
- Mixed with a “Tadka” or spices fried in oil for flavor
Over the course of our explorations, I have started to learn more about my style and influences. I tend to draw heavily upon modernist pillars such as understanding the ingredients, preparations, and food culture to the furthest extent possible. Modernist cuisine also prides itself on inventiveness, taking new approaches to ingredients or dishes which I really respect. When it comes to cuisines, I think French comes out due to it’s foundational position and Japanese due to my love for simplicity and it’s flavors.
Now that I have a dish I am aiming to recreate, my approach has actually shifted from top-down to bottom-up and I can begin to adapt the Daal.
- Stock – instead of pressure cooking the lentils in water, I want to start off with a stock as you would in both French and Japanese cuisine. I’ve only experimented using smoked pig hocks once and I think I will use that as my stock again. Pressure cook this ~45 minutes with the mirepoix. (clean properly before hand)
- Mirepoix – Leeks, carrots, and garlic, maybe charr them before hand (depends on the color I want in the final stock, charring will make it darker)
- Remove all the ingredients (as they should have lost their flavors)
- Lentils – use yellow daal (wash throughly)
- Vegetables – let’s see what is in season to get the best quality available (along the lines of tomatoes, garlic, onions)
- Flavorings – white wine or vinegar for the sourness, salt and pepper, tumeric
- Tadka – all spice, coriander, fenugreek, chili
- Toppings – lemon, parsley, some crunchy chip type thing
- Taste – smokey and porky umami, the spices that come as part of the tadka, some freshness from the vegetables
- Aroma – strong smells of spices and pork
- Mouthfeel – mainly warm, some contrast with the toppings and the tingles of the spices
- X-Factor – creating a simple daal with the elegance of being served at a restaurant, fancifying a childhood dish
Option 1: Plate with focus on the daal on a shallow plate served as course within a multi course meal
Option 2: Plate with a central meat or another ingredient on top of the daal creating a main course dish
Option 3: Daal as a appetizer served with crunchy naan
Option 4: Served as a soup appetizer (more liquid version of Daal)
Name: Fancy-Shmancy Daal (work in progress).
1. Mise En Place
2. Blanch the bones to clean the scum
3. Chop vegetables, brown in pot, top with water (600ml) and add back bones
4. Pressure cook for 30 minutes
5. When you finish the stock you will remove the bones but keep the meat! It still has yummy smokey flavor.
1. Mise en place
2. Wash Daal and chop the vegetables
3. When the stock is finish, remove the bones, strain the liquid, add the liquid back into the pot
4. Combine with daal, vegetables, vinegar, turmeric, salt and pepper
5. Pressure Cook for 15 minutes
1. Mise en place (chili oil, mustard seeds, coriander, all spice, fenugreek)
2. Roast and then cook in chili oil
1. Mise en place
2. Create a “gremolata” by combining the cilantro, lemon, and lemon zest (hold salt until plating)
3. Slice the radish very thin
I plated this in two different ways and strained the daal to get a soup vs. plated dish
Plate, Garnish, and season according to taste.
As option 1/option 2 from above:
As option 3/option 4 from above:
Yum’s the word!
Post game analysis
- I made sure to mise en place at every step in the process and it was really helpful for a dish with many steps
- I need to do a better job of cleaning the plate for photographic close ups
- Daal is a bit tricky and messy due to it’s liquid consistency for a plated dish and so I think the consistency there needs a bit more work as you can see in the first picture
- Taste-wise, I think it was right on the spot: smokey, spicy, creamy, and fresh!
- I love daal, and I love meat. This hearty version sounds really yummy.
- Plating option one looks a lot like polenta.
- I wonder if there is enough tadka / chili oil in plate option one for flavor. If not, can we serve more tadka on the side?