|A visit to the mill|
Jul 12th, 2006
I think I've written here before about Bob's Red Mill*, and how the seemingly overnight success and proliferation of their products makes me alternately happy and envious. You see back before my dad was a happily retired computer programmer, he was a frustrated organic farmer who dreamed of marketing a branded line of organic milled whole grains from his farm in Oregon. Sound familiar? His name is even Bob. But instead of a Red Mill we had West Wind Farm, and it was the eighties, not exactly the high point of the organic movement in the US.
My dad has long given up the dream, I don't think he'd even really registered the whole Bob's Red Mill phenomenon until I brought it up. But I couldn't help but feel a little miffed recently as I gazed upon the whole grain wonderland that is the Bob's Whole Grain Store and Visitor's Center located near Portland in fabulous Milwaukee Oregon. This could all have been mine. (Well, not really, but maybe my dad's which is close enough for overdramatic exclamations on a blog).
We were there for a "girl's" brunch - me, my mom, and my brother's partner (gah, I hate that word, but they own a house together, girlfriend just doesn't suffice). The flagship store, complete with 18 foot high water wheel, is quite near my parents house, and my mom wanted me to see it, so we had brunch in their restaurant and browsed the store. My food was not terribly exciting, but I did get a little giddy in the bulk bean section. I came home with all sorts of interesting dried beans - adzuki, anasazi, and flageolet which have a beautiful marbled green and white color when dried. They look like lime sherbet jelly beans.
I also grabbed a bag of channa dal, dried and split chickpeas, used often in Indian cooking. They look a lot like yellow split peas, but they have a nice nutty taste. I think when most of us think of dal, we think of a spicy lentil curry, but dals are made with all sorts of different beans. This recipe comes from the book Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Sumana Ray, but similar recipes abound on the internet, it's a very traditional dish.
My one quibble with this recipe is that I found it too salty, so I've cut the amound of salt called for in half. I would recommend starting with that amount and adding more to taste. I also ommitted the raisins as I don't care for them in savory dishes, and although I did have some unsweetened shredded coconut around (Bob's Red Mill brand coincidentally, is there nothing this Bob can't do?), it isn't very noticeable in the finished dish so I would consider it optional as well.
So despite my slight discomfiture and the whiff of theme park that lay over the place, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the mill. It's encouraging to see such a large space devoted to organic and whole food products, and a good resource for those of us who get excited at the sight of bins and bins of dried beans.
*If you don't know what I'm talking about click on the picture above, I'm sure you've seen their little bags of flour or pancake mix in your grocery store.
Channa DalScant 1 cup channa dal, washed
6 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 tbsp ghee or unsalted butter
3/4 tsp whole cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
2 dried red chiles
2 inch cinnamon stick
3/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp chile powder
1 1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp unsweetend shredded dried coconut (optional)
1 tbsp raisins (optional)
Bring the dal and water to the boil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Skim off any scum that forms.
Lower the heat, partially cover the pan and simmer for about an hour and a quarter until soft.
Heat ghee or butter in a small pan over medium heat, add the cumin sees, bay leaves, red chiles, cinnamon stick and cardamom and let them sizzle for a few seconds.
Add the turmeric, chile powder, ground cumin, salt, and sugar and stir fry for one minute. Add the coconut and raisins if using and fry for another minute or two.
Mix the ghee and spices with the dal and stir. Serve with rice, flatbread, cauliflower, or potatoes.
-adapted from Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Sumana Ray