12 October 2011

Dinner in no time flat

A couple of nights ago (Monday, I think?) Steve had invited friends over unexpectedly, and I had roughly 20 minutes to get my act together, and get a meal on the table. Thankfully, I had food in the fridge that I could reconfigure into a decent dinner. I had daal, rice, steamed snow peas, a couple of different dressings that I had made on Saturday to eat with the steamed snow peas, a quick vegetable dish I'd made with some spices, and a bunch of other things lying around. I got to work immediately.

I didn't have quite as much daal as I'd normally need to feed four people, so I decided to combine the rice, veg, and daal together in one pot, and make it like if that was the intention all along. There are multiple dishes all across the world that involve rice, beans, and veg, and this would be no exception. I brought a small amount of water to the boil, dumped in the daal, veg, and rice, and slammed on the lid, while I peeled some garlic. I reheated the snow peas, and gave the dressings a quick once over with a whisk. I also sliced up some courgette to dip into the dressings. This way, you'd have a choice of what you wanted to dip into the dressings.

Then, I grated off a cucumber, chopped up a small red onion, and tossed it with lime juice and a touch of salt. I also made a very quick courgette and cabbage thing. I popped mustard seeds, and roasted urad daal in hot fat, added some onion, stirred a bit, added chopped cabbage and courgette at the same time, and gave it a stir-fry until everything was cooked through. Just about then, I heard tinkling at the door. I quickly threw some garlic into the rice & daal pot (I used my garlic press, to make the fresh garlic smell waft through the air).

I stirred everything up together, turned off the stove, and started bringing out the dishes to the table, one after another. Once I'd filled the water jug with ice and water, the table looked positively overflowing with food! I found that when you make more varieties, the small quantities don't seem so small. When you make things that are meant to dip into other things, it makes things more communal, and friendly seeming. Everyone is picking up stuff and passing it around, rather than isolating.

The point is that if you keep a couple of different varieties of things in your fridge at all times (leftovers, essentially), you can perk them up with a bit of fresh garlic, and by combining them in different ways. Throw down some dressings, and you're golden.

Peanut Sauce
3 TB peanut butter
3 inches of ginger, chopped roughly
2 cloves garlic
Hefty pinch of salt
Hefty pinch of cayenne pepper or your favourite ground red chiles
1 1/2 tsp Rice wine vinegar
Water, to thin things out

Combine the peanut butter, ginger, vinegar, and about 3 TB of water into a blender. Grind on low speed until the ginger and garlic are chopped up more. Blend on medium high until everything is smooth. If you feel like the dressing is too thick, and isn't grinding up properly, just add more water until you reach the consistency you like.