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Eat, drink and be merry

It's only remotely related to food, yet I'm too pleased not to write about it. I travelled to London during the Easter break and, my, what a splendid city it is! There's an amazing variety of high-quality food, be it restaurants, takeaways or farmers’ markets. It almost seems like the classic fish’n’chips joints are only holding up thanks to a steady stream of tourists, while locals enjoy a worldwide variety of regional kitchens. Thus, I highly recommend a visit. There are even some excellent vegetarian restaurants, like Food for Thoughtnear Camden Market and The Place Belowin Cheapside– and the average prices are lower than eating out in Maastricht! Truth be told, rather than the train tickets or food, the biggest damage to my wallet was caused by a visit to one of the best bookshops I know, Books for Cooks in Notting Hill. (As a side note, if you'd rather travel to Paris, check out the Librairie Gourmandein rue Montmartre – it’s a dream!)
I wish I could give you a recipe for the stunning Japanese salad I had in London, but I've got to experiment more on it first, so here’s another inspiration I got there: Indian daal. Indian food is present everywhere in England and the Indian kitchen is much too diverse for me to be able to do it justice, but one thing is common for all of it: the most important ingredients are freshly ground spices. These make all the difference.
Daal is a common, lentil-based dish, but everyone has their own recipe and you can make it a thin soup or a thick puree; just adjust the water. It's based on red lentils, which are wonderful, because you don't have to soak them. Just take 250g of red lentils and cook them together with three cloves in a bit more than a litre of salted water until mushy (if you only use the top of the cloves, it’s not as intense when you unintentionally bite on one). Mix in one teaspoon each of toasted and freshly ground seeds of coriander, mustard and cumin. If you don't have a mortar, you can also crush the seeds with a heavy knife. Then mix in one teaspoon of turmeric, half a teaspoon of cinnamon and a quarter of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper and ground ginger. Season with pepper and salt, and finally stir in 50g of ghee, which is clarified butter (but you can substitute this with normal butter). It goes well with potatoes or rice, but mushrooms or spinach is lovely as well – just take whatever you like best!

 

Tim Aretz

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