Wednesday, November 4, 2009

scrounging for food in London town

Traveling is disconcerting.  I loved it when I was younger.  We regularly flew through Heathrow on our summer trips to India, and I looked forward to seeing all the people, getting a Cadbury's chocolate bar, and the yellow signs!  But now, I like comfort and home and routine!  And traveling for 24 hours is not comfortable, homey or familiar.  You wake up in one bed and go to sleep in another, the money looks funny, and you don't know where to eat!

This flight to London was particularly rough, despite the couple of bottles of Underberg Jessica sent me off from Chicago with!  I couldn't sleep at all, and of course, they now charge $6 for beer or wine on the flight, so there was no extra help.  This meal from my United flight was not horrible.  I always order the Asian Vegetarian meal on flights.  It's usually Indian and vegan, and...not horrible.  Definitely comparable to a bad Indian restaurant.  Of course, now I can't even think about meals on flights without remembering that crazy complaint letter about the bhaaji-custard on a Virgin flight.

Arriving in London, I set off for a conference at the British Museum.  That was good, and it was a treat to be at the Museum in the evening.  For dinner, I had hummous and ful at a little take-out place.  Not bad for 3 pounds.

The next day I went to a great conference at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.  Greenwich is so serene and lovely.  And they were nice enough to give us little sandwiches.  I ate about 3/4 of a hummous sandwich.  That evening for dinner, I grabbed a beigel at the Brick Lane Beigel Bake on my way out to a bar.

Not very substantial meals, and if you have been reading this blog, then you know I like to eat.

So I was so thrilled the next day, when after schlepping my things all the way across town to my more permanent place, to get a delicious tofu banh mi for lunch.  yum!   I was hoping to get my produce for the week at the Borough Market, but I am having some cash flow issues at the moment, and I had to stop at Sainsbury's for some quick things.  Unfortunately, everything here comes in plastic, but you do get info about where it's from and how fresh it is.

Dinner that night was with Michael and Tom at Masala Zone, but not before we had a couple of really delicious manhattans at B@1.

On Sunday, after discovering all the wonderful little grocery stores here in Elephant & Castle, I had a real dilemma about what to make for dinner.  But not really, I wanted dal the whole time.  It's the best comfort food.

1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 small onion, sliced
1/4 inch piece of ginger, sliced
1 cup massoor dal
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 green chili, sliced lenghtwise

In a pot, heat oil on medium high heat.  When hot add cumin seeds.  After they have toasted for a minute or so, add the onion and ginger, and saute until translucent.

Add the massoor dal and turmeric and cook until the lentils are shiny and smell toasty.

Add three cups of water, salt and the green chili.

Bring to a boil, and then turn down to simmer.  Cover and cook for about 15 minutes.

I also made

Cauliflower curry
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 onion, sliced
1/2 inch piece of ginger, sliced
1 green chili, sliced lenghtwise
1/2 cauliflower chopped into even pieces (maybe 1.5 inches) and the greens too
1 tsp. turmeric

heat oil on medium high heat until hot.  add cumin, saute until toasty.  add onion and ginger and saute until translucent.  Add cauliflower, turmeric and green chili, and saute for a bit.  add salt to taste (about 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp), and the greens from the cauliflower if you have them.  add about a 1/2 cup of water, put lid on it, and let cook for about 10-15 minutes.  Check for salt and spice.

I ate this with some rice and some fresh tomatoes.  It was so good!

 Things are starting to feel homier already.


  1. hi radhika! so glad you are already making delicious food in London!

    those tomatoes look really good.

    I'm in love with cauliflower these days...can't wait to try your recipe.


  2. Oh my gosh, that looks SOOO good!! And I don't usually just say that! I hope you are having tons of fun. I wish I was there with you!

  3. thanks guys! it felt really good to be cooking for myself again. i wanted to add two things. the dal would be so good with some butter. i've just gotten really used to cooking vegan for paddy.

    and i put some wheatberries in the rice. they didn't cook quite for long enough, but when i make it in the rice cooker at home, it is perfect! and adds the perfect texture to the rice.

  4. Hi Radhika! The cauliflower curry looks SO delicious! The perfect thing for chilly Ithaca. I hope you're doing well!

  5. paddy eats meat, but no dairy. so when we eat together, we often eat vegan.