Yes, ok, it's true - us Brits do have a tendency to bang on about the weather. Believe me, if you lived here, you'd go on about it, too.
Right now, though, there's some justification. As I type, it's as black as hell out there, the rain is lashing against my window (thank God for double glazing), and the wind is blowing the trees around like there's no tomorrow. Oh, and the cats are going mental. Yes, we're having something of a storm.
There's nothing for it in times like these but to batten down the hatches (if you don't have hatches, then at least check your windows), and to settle down with the kind of food that'll warm you up from the inside and make you feel glad that you don't have to go outside. Except, in my case, I have to take the bins out tonight. Grrr.
So, um, how about some dal and kale? Sounds ok? Lovely, buttery tarka dal with earthy, chewy kale with garlic and some zingy ginger? Great - let's crack on, then.
The tarka dal I make comes from Madhur Jaffrey's Simple Indian Cookery. This is my remembered 'free' version - I make it so often, I never get the recipe out these days.
So - for a couple of healthy appetites, you'll need 3oz red lentils and 3oz chana dal. Rinse in cold water, and put in a pan with 750ml cold water and half a teaspoon of turmeric. Bring to the boil with the lid off - then turn the heat down to a simmer. Skim off the impurities. Let it all bubble away, with the lid 3/4 on, for about 40-50 minutes, or until the lentils are tender and the water has almost all disappeared. Pour yourself a glass of vino, or go and do something else in the meantime.
Once the lentils are done, turn off the heat and stir in half to a teaspoon of salt, to taste. Put the lid on fully. Set aside.
In a small frying pan, pour about 2-3 tbsps of groundnut or olive oil, and place over a high heat. When the oil is hot, throw in half a teaspoon of cumin seeds, and let sizzle for 10 seconds. Then lob in 2 dried red chillis and as many peeled garlic cloves as you fancy - I think the recipe says one or two, but I always end up doing about 4 or 5. Fry until the chillis go dark and the garlic cloves take on some colour - a matter of a few seconds. Take the lid off the lentil pan, and pour the hot oil, spices, and garlic into it. Slam the lid down again - the lentils and oil will spit at you. It's not personal, it's just what happens. Done. You might want to add in an extra knob or two of butter for additional yumminess. I'm not policing your cholesterol levels for you.
For the kale, I really just make this up. Pour 2-3 tbsps olive or groundnut oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Quickly saute some chopped ginger and garlic - whatever quantities you like - and chilli flakes and garam masala. Drop in the chopped kale (again, however much you fancy), and add a tbsp or so of water. Slam on the lid, and let steam for a few moments. Take the lid off, and turn the kale over to ensure it cooks evenly, and that the garlic et al coat the leaves thoroughly. Season the lot. When the kale's wilted, but still bright green and with texture, it's ready.
Serve, and eat immediately. Not that you wouldn't. Your only problem at this point should be whether to eat the dal first...
Oh, and if you really can't manage all the dal in one sitting, it keeps brilliantly. It's fantastic for breakfast. Honest. Or lunch, then, if you really must be so conventional.
Sigh. Don't tell me you never eat weird stuff for breakfast?