In that spirit, I made beans from scratch, in the slow cooker. As I’ve said in the past, I almost always use canned beans. (I’m actually very loyal to goya as a brand, and I think their beans are fresh and tasty. My first product endorsment!) But it’s fun to make beans from scratch, sometimes. It’s nice to use the slow cooker, on a hot day, because it doesn’t warm up the kitchen too much. And I like collards in a slow-cooked scenario, because their flavor develops nicely and they don’t turn to mush. I’ve also been on a food-quest for black cardamom, lately, and I finally got a big bag, and I was extremely eager to try it out. They’re wonderful! Big wrinkly black pods, with the most amazing smoky-sweet flavor. I love them! Their taste is milder than their smell. If you can’t find them, you can use green cardamom, or cardamom powder, and add a touch of smoked paprika, if you have it. This would probably good with rice, but I didn’t think of that at the time!
Here’s Howlin Wolf, Goin Down Slow.
The broth is smoky and a little sweet, with a kick of cayenne. The texture of the stew is quite nice – the moong dal becomes soft, the winter wheat remains a little chewy, and everything retains a bit of its original character, though it all goes well together.
The first thing I thought to cook in the big beautiful black stoneware pot was Urad Dal. I bought some this summer at an Indian grocery store. They’re beautiful, tiny, black ovoid lentils. They need to cook for a loooooong time, on a looooooow heat. And then they turn out delcious! I matched them with black-eyed peas, because they both have an earthy flavor, and because I liked the little black beans with white spots, and the larger white beans with black spots. I seasoned them with allspice, ginger, cardamom, coriander and basil. Bright and sweet – to go with the earthy. And I cooked them in butter, because Dal Makhani, the traditional urad dal dish, is cooked with butter, yogurt and cream, and I wanted to give a nod to that. Turned out yummy! I cooked it for 6 hours on high, and I think it would have been done an hour earlier, but I wasn’t home. Very tasty with basmati rice and cauliflower in a spicy cashew-almond sauce. It’s not the prettiest dish you’ve ever made, but if you stir in some chopped tomatoes and cilantro at the end, it will have a bit of color and fresh flavor.
This was fun to make in a slow cooker, because I could leave the house with minimal fear of burning it down. But I’ve also cooked urad dal on a low burner for 5 hours, and that’s worked, too. So if you don’t have a slow cooker…don’t despair.