Thursday, January 7, 2010

Indian Spice and Everything Nice (and Cheap)

A recent article in "Cooking Light" magazine suggests trying new foods in the coming year. Whether it be growing your own exotic herbs or cooking with an unfamiliar food such as quinoa or fennel, the article submits that this will help us break out of our eating routines, potentially add health benefits to our diets (assuming you haven’t been aching to try fried butter...), and inspire us with a renewed enthusiasm for food.

One thing I’ve long wanted to try is Indian daal, a lentil-based dish served with rice. The aforementioned article actually included a recipe for daal, and I decided that I would make it.
I began my experiment yesterday in the Indian grocery store next to the popular Kaveri Madras restaurant in Sacramento. As I piled all of the necessary ingredients into my little basket, I began to worry about the cost. Spices are notoriously expensive, and I almost always sneak into my mom’s pantry when I need to use some for a recipe, rather than shelling out the $5-10 price per container at the store. (Don't judge a poor girl.) Nothing I saw had a price on it, which I found odd and a bit disconcerting. (The girl behind the counter later told me that their price sticker machine had jammed up.)

As I looked down at my basket and saw the cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, turmeric, mustard seeds, nigella seeds, cumin, and moong lentils, I felt a bit of trepidation and guilt at the thought of the cost of my experiment. (After all, saving money is another one of my goals!) Imagine my relief when the grand total came to a mere $13.63! I also had a pleasant conversation with the girl behind the counter, who helped explain how to cook a proper daal and even got on the internet to make sure that I had the right spice that I needed for the nigella seeds.

Who knew that spices would be so much cheaper at Indian stores? I will totally go back for that reason alone. I will write again next week about the results of my attempts at daal-making.

1 comment:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!