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01 March 2015 @ 09:26 pm
Fifty Weeks, Fifty Curries: Week Twenty-Four: Dhansak  
Yay! Regression to the mean!

Okay, that's being flippant, but after two weeks of blah posts it's nice to have some good news to report for once. And it's especially nice since I had to get over my instinctual revulsion at the news of anything that has lentils in it. I don't know why I do that, since I like lentils a lot and I've never had anything containing them that I didn't like, but it seems like every single time the same thing happens. In fact, I wrote about this exact same problem in the dalcha post, which also had lentils and which I was also initially leery about.. I didn't like dalcha as much as I liked dhansak, and I'll try to unpack that as we continue.

Lentils front and center! Also, the whole eggplant went in the curry.

Last time I complained about the texture and the chunkiness, but I didn't have any complaint like that here. I'm not sure if it's because dalcha had chickpeas and thus was chunkier than this was, or because dhansak has a ton of vegetables in it and so the texture was closer to what I'm used to. I think there's a certain among of chunkiness that makes a perfect curry sauce for me. Too thin and it's basically soup, and while curry udon is a thing that exists and is actually pretty good, it's curry udon, not udon curry. Too thick and it's not sauce at all, and a good sauce is part of what makes a curry for me. Dhansak hit exactly the right spot for me, with the lentils adding a nice base amount of thickness and the chunks of vegetables mixed in providing islands within that sauce.

It might be an issue of familiarity. When I was worked at Suzugamine, every Wednesday after work I'd go to the sadly-closed Spicy Bar Lal's the instant it opened for dinner. I'd sit down, the owner would ask me, "いつもでよろしいですか?" ("Is the usual okay"?), I'd say it was, they'd bring me the keema egg curry set, and I'd eat it. That's probably my favorite curry next to Thai curry, and most of the Thai curry we made actually had ground beef in it once we found a source of grass-fed ground beef, because then I'd get a similar texture but the Thai curry taste and amount of vegetables. I have half a decade of built-up preference for that texture.

I've thought about this a lot, as you can probably tell.  photo icon_spock.gif

The curry has three separate masalas. Masalae? Masalot?

Words from the Chef
Whew, making this curry was exhausting! On one particular step was difficult but there were a lot of them. There were tons of ingredients in this curry and I made my own masala blends (in the book) which was fun and adventerous. It's one of those curries where if I'd left myself enough time to prep (I had a thing before curry night) it might have gone smoother. However, the curry was good. I didn't find it as exciting as my husband did but it was good. We have tons of leftovers! All of the dal!

Color! Actual color!

The other thing going for dhansak is that it actually had vegetables. Not only did it have vegetables, it had enough that we didn't need to have a plate of vegetables on the side. The biggest complaint I've had that keeps coming up over and over again as we've gone through 50 Great Curries of India is that the curries are mostly berefit of vegetables, and coming from Thai curries where I could often use up a significant portion of our CSA shipment in one meal and have enough leftovers for two meals. Dhansak recapitulates that glory in terms of leftovers, since our giant pot was still mostly full after feeding both of us and there's probably two or three more dinners in there for me, and also in containing vegetables. It had a whole eggplant, lentils, onions, tomatos, garlic, cilantro, and carrots, which is about the variety a wok of Thai curry would have had. It was supposed to have potatos in it too, but softlykarou decided that was a bit much and it'd be better to serve them on the side. And she was right. It would have been too much, and I only ate half of the potato. I ate all the curry and the leftover sauce in softlykarou's plate, though. As is my custom.  photo Emot-happycat.gif

The potato turned out to be totally unnecessary.

After two weeks with little to write about, I'm glad that this curry was good enough that I felt more inspired, even if what it inspired me to do was to ramble on about chunky sauce and restaurants that don't exist anymore. I even had a whole intro paragraph planned and then I checked the past entries and realized I already wrote it, so due diligence saved you all from another ramble about how pralines aren't fish. photo www.MessenTools.com-Pokemon-pok022.gif

But seriously, dhansak is great. And since softlykarou doesn't like it as much as I do, I get to eat most of it. There is no better way this curry night could have ended.

Would I Eat It Again?: I'm already looking forward to it.
Do I Prefer It to the Usual Thai Curry?: I might eat it on alternating weeks with Thai curry, but it won't replace it completely.
What Would I Change?: Nothing. It was perfect as-is.
Current Mood: pleasedpleased
Current Music: Abject Suffering podcast