Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pongal for One

Today I came home, dead tired, to see that my little hyacinths had opened!  They had turned colors and begun to spread apart this morning, but no hint yet of a bloom.  The woman at the Borough Market said it would take them 3 weeks or so, but I guess they like my warm, damp room.  (I learned that the bulbs could be stored in a dark, dry place until next year when they will bloom again)

Readers, I made the most delicious dinner!  I'm so glad I stopped by the grocery store just to get some fresh spinach and tomatoes, everything else I had in my pantry which I keep very well-stocked with staples.  It was really simple, pongal, a mixture of rice and lentils, with sauteed spinach and tomatoes.  This is becoming my standard dinner, what I crave around 2:30 in the afternoon.

Pongal for one
Takes 20 minutes
Makes 1 serving

1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
little bit of ginger
1/4 cup rice
1/4 cup masoor dal

3 small cloves garlic
1/4 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 chili, sliced lengthwise
2 big handfuls of fresh spinach, washed well
4 or 5 cherry tomatoes, halved

In a sauce pan, heat butter on low-medium low heat.  Decide the size of butter depending on what kind of day it was.  Mine was a 1/2 tbsp. day: I really needed the butter.  Otherwise, I would have used half that amount with some safflower or canola oil.  You do not want the heat to be too high because the butter will burn, but if it's too low, nothing will sizzle.

When the butter is melted, add cumin seeds, pepper and ginger.  When cumin seeds begin really sizzling and everything is very fragrant, add rice and dal, and saute for a minute.  It's ok if the butter is browning because that makes everything taste better.

Add 1 1/2 cups of water and salt to taste.  Bring to a boil, lower heat and cover for 15 minutes.

While the pongal is cooking, heat a little bit of oil in a small saute pan on medium high heat.  Add the garlic, chili and mustard seeds.  Be ready with the spinach!  When the mustard seeds begin popping, add spinach and tomatoes to the pan.  Add salt and saute for 1 minute or until spinach is soft and tomatoes are beginning to shrivel.

Eat!  With pickles or yoghurt or just by itself.  It was so good!


  1. Confession: that was a stock photo of the spinach and tomatoes from a dish gone wrong a week or so ago! I used roughly the same amount of spinach tonight, but probably half the tomatoes.

  2. this looks so yummy and so happy for you about the hyacinths!