February 1, 2010
Liz mentioned spicy Thai food on the way home from the gym last night, after a long afternoon of prep for today’s classes, and in doing so, named our desires so precisely, that it literally hurt that we could do nothing about satisfying them. Our minds turned to Indian food, a cuisine we could achieve were we willing to drive twenty-five minutes, but neither of us were willing and Liz had bread to bake and I had blue hair dye to leave in for a few hours. Lorna Sass has a Curried Squash Yellow Split Pea soup, so I decided on striving for a version of that. The result: not Thai food, not quite curry, but a delicious Americanized Dahl. Eat with crunchy hunks of bread—we had Liz’s first attempt at Ciabatta. Perfect.
In your pressure cooker/soup pot, saute a large onion in olive oil. Add 2 T freshly grated ginger and a good tablespoon or two of fennel seeds. Stir and toast the seeds. Add 1 1/2 c chopped celery, three large carrots cut into chunky discs, 6 c of water, 2 c yellow split peas, curry powder if you have it (I had about 1 T left), a healthy dash of cinnamon, a few healthy dashes of cardamom, a tablespoon or two of ground coriander, 1 t basil, 1 t Garam Masala (optional—I was trying to make up for not having enough curry powder). Throw in a few handfuls of raisins. Yep! Raisins. Do not add salt at this point. I’ve always been told adding salt to beans and peas while they cook make the legume tough. And with a dish where you need the peas to break down, why test the theory?
Close up your pressure cooker and bring to high pressure for ten minutes. (For standard stove top, follow the directions on the pea package—probably forty minutes.) If you’re in a hurry, you could release the pressure right away. I let mine come down naturally for another ten minutes while I went to price check Internet providers with Liz.
Stir the peas well and start adjusting seasonings. I start with the salt since it brings out the other flavors as well. Last night, I also added cayenne, but the other spices were fine.
So delicious it’s easy to overeat. Be forewarned.