In 2008 Slumdog Millionaire exploded in British and American box offices, it won ten academy awards and brought international awareness to Indian films. Long before Bollywood went mainstream people throughout the world had been enjoying South Asian culture in fashion, art, jewelry and probably most popularly through food. By the 1970s in Britain the presence of curry houses expanded and even rivaled the age old fish and chip shop. Brick Lane in London’s east end is famous for its Indian buffets and sweet shops, food markets and colourful fabric stores. Recipes for Indian curry in British cookbooks however date as far back as the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.

Since then the British and North American appreciation and understanding of Indian food and culture has diversified. Through migration, travel and globalization we are no longer consumers of the exotic, but instead many westerners have incorporated the beauty of the South Asian subcontinent into their every day lives. The inclusion and appreciation of Indian culture into the daily life of Sault Ste. Marie and its residents is far behind London and Toronto, there is no neighbourhood referred to as little India and no city wide celebration of diwali in the fall, but the Husky Gas station has a fantastic Indian food menu, Jade Yoga offers Bollywood dancing and for the second time in the last couple of years the Art Gallery of Algoma is hosting a Bollywood/Indian Night.

The event will be held on May 31st at 7pm. The evening will feature authentic Indian cooking from Neeta Marwah’s kitchen. Four meat and vegetarian dishes including lentils, chicken, chickpeas and cauliflower, will be served and followed by an Indian sweet dessert and Chai Tea. There will be dance performances and a DJ for those who wish to join in, Henna tattoos done by a local artist and a silent auction and free draw that include items imported from India.

If you are so inspired to bring the taste of India to your dining table this weekend  – follow the recipe below for,

Masala Dal

Ingredients:

1 cup Split Red Lentil (Masoor Dal)
5 slit Green Chili (Hari mirch)
1 tblsp chopped Coriander Leaves (Dhania Patta)
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder (Haldi)
1/2 cup grated Coconut
Salt to taste
1 tsp Mustard Seeds (Raai / Raee)
1 tsp Cumin Seed (Jeera)
2 chopped Tomato (Tamatar)
1 tblsp Oil
1 medium sized sliced Onion (Pyaj)

How to make masala dal:

  • Wash and soak the grain for 30 minutes.
  • Grind the grated coconut with a little water to a smooth paste in a blender. Keep aside.
  • Fry the sliced onions till golden brown. Remove and keep aside.
  • Cook the grain in a pressure cooker with just sufficient water to cook the dal until soft.
  • Remove the lid of the cooker and add the green chilies , turmeric powder tomatoes and salt. Cook for 3 minutes.
  • When the tomatoes are cooked add the coconut paste. mix thoroughly.
  • Cook for a minute and remove from the flame.
  • Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds, when they crackle add the cumin seeds.
  • Fry for a few seconds over a low flame. Pour over the dal.
  • Serve hot garnished with the fried onions and the chopped coriander leaves.
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