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Indian cookery - a tip

Written Thurs 5 Sept lunchtime

I have just had some lovely dhal out of the freezer...it was 
a bit bland and I remembered reading in Indian cookery books 
about a technique called "bargar", ie, frying whole spices in 
lots of oil or ghee before pouring the whole lot over a dhal 
or other dish. So I decided to try and think up a corresponding 
ff technique...

Get some whole spices, eg cumin. Dry-fry in a preheated quite 
hot pan for about 30 seconds until darkened and smelling nice. 
Pour in a dollop of water. It will hiss and spit...and the oils 
will come out of the spices, turning the water yellowish. Now 
boil briskly for about 30 seconds to 1 minute more to 
thoroughly cook the spices. Make sure there is enough water in 
the pan so you can "collect up" all the spices in it. Then 
pour the contents of the pan over a dhal.

When you do this with oil you can leave it at that...but with 
water it looks more appetising stirred in. So don't make your 
dhal too wet in the first place.

This is very different to just cooking your whole spices in 
with the dhal...the spices retain a bit of "bite" and have 
a wholly different flavour. It certainly made my dhal today
the nicest I have *ever* tasted.