Indian food reminds me of great seasons of my life, and especially brings back memories of one of the best people I have ever known: my friend Egle.
Several years ago, while living in Singapore, my friend Joel, who is a great chef, told me that his mom was coming for an extended visit. Like most chefs, Joel worked long hours, so I offered to bring his 60-something-year-old Venezuelan mother around the city and translate for her while he was at work.
From the moment we met, there was a special connection between us. We were like family! She was a true Venezuelan mom; a beautiful, smart, confident, hilarious, friendly, sincere woman; a lover of sudoku, and a teacher and student of life. She was so proud of her kids, and when she talked about her husband Alejo, she always told me that “real love lasts a lifetime.”
Even though she was older than my own parents and I was in my 20’s at the time, we used to hang out like two teenagers in a new city. She wasn’t shy or hesitant about trying all kinds of different foods – she hated some, but she loved Indian food. She told me that her secret to getting through life without cooking was simply to marry a home chef.
People often asked me when I was going to get married, but she told me “Joha, don’t be pressured, live slowly.” After seeing calm restored, she would continue, “but, hurry up!” and we’d both laugh!
Recently, my dear friend Egle opened her wings and left this world to be with our Lord. She is one of many worldwide casualties of the COVID pandemic. But the precious memories together, her friendship, motherly love and wisdom she shared with me are going to be in my heart forever.
Egle taught me to live with intensity, allowing myself to feel joy and pain, living slowly, but running with intention toward my destination. This is how I remember her, smiling and laughing, even in the midst of difficulties, always having fun with life. Egle made me realize that age is no barrier to true friendship!
Sudoku and Indian food remind me of the many talks with Egle over delicious curries in Asia. So today, in her honor, I wanted to share this recipe. I hope you will enjoy it!
Moong dal (beans) coconut curry
1 cup of Moong Dal beans, cleaned and rinsed
1/2 Shallot, chopped
3 garlic cloves
2 tomatoes, blended
4 Small pieces of Fresh ginger, sliced
1 Tbsp of Coriander seeds (or powder)
1 Tbsp of Cumin seeds (or powder)
1 Tsp of turmeric
1 Tsp of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup of fresh cilantro chopped
2 cups of vegetable stock
1 can of Coconut milk
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
In a large pot at medium-high heat add cooking oil.
If using seeds: Add the cumin seeds and sauté until they start changing color. Add shallot and garlic, and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir in ginger, coriander, turmeric, salt, and cayenne pepper.
If using powder: At medium heat, add shallot and sauté for about a minute, then add garlic and sauté until brown. Add tomatoes and stir in cumin, ginger, coriander, turmeric, salt, and cayenne pepper.
Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add vegetable stock and Moong Dal. Increase the heat until the water starts boiling then reduce the heat to low and put a lid on. Let it simmer for 45 minutes. Check and stir the mixture a couple of times.
Once the grains are soft and taste cooked, add the coconut milk. Increase the heat to medium and let it simmer for a few more minutes. I don’t recommend leaving it cooking for too long or on high heat to avoid changing the consistency of the coconut milk.
Add fresh cilantro and lime and adjust salt and lime to taste.
Serve hot on white rice, or eat with pita bread.