Hed Chef: Fried moong dal
Certain foods can conjure up fond memories of childhood. Fried moong dal, a snack of fried and salted mung bean lentils, reminds me of the times my dad used to take me to the movies.
He would pick me up after school and we would head for one of his favourite movie spots - the now-defunct Zenith Theatre in Tampines Road, Jubilee Cinema or Ang Mo Kio's Broadway Cinema.
Even when I was bored by the film, I was content to sit in the air-conditioned darkness, annoying my dad every few minutes with questions about the plot or characters.
Looking back, perhaps that was why he plied me with kacang putih, sometimes keropok, and a soft drink.
My favourite was the steamed chickpeas, followed by the crunchy and salty lentils.
Sadly, the cinemas and kacang putih sellers of my childhood are long gone. So is my dad, who died seven years ago.
That is why I savour a simple snack of fried lentils all the more. They evoke the good old days, when happiness was a movie with him and sadness was reaching the tapered end of the kacang putih cone.
- 350g moong dal (mung bean lentils)
- 3 litres of water
- 1½ tsp salt
- 750ml cooking oil
- 4 cloves of garlic (with skin), lightly smashed
- 4 sprigs of curry leaves (15g), de-stemmed
- 3 dried chillies, cut into 2cm pieces
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp chat masala
- Pinch of cumin
1. Wash lentils and soak in water for 20 minutes.
2. Discard water and rinse lentils.
3. Using a deep pot, bring 3 litres of water to a boil.
4. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to boiling water and allow it to reach a rolling boil again.
5. Place lentils in pot. Do not cover. Boil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and drain water.
6. Transfer lentils into large sieve to drain off excess water.
7. Line basket with piece of cheese cloth. Spread out lentils and allow to air dry for an hour until dry to touch. (above)
8. Divide lentils into four portions. Fry one portion at a time.
9. Heat cooking oil until bubbles form when you place frying slice in oil.
10. Add a clove of garlic and let it deep-fry for one minute.
11. Add a quarter of lentils and fry for 3½ minutes. (above)
12. Add a sprig of the curry leaves and fry for 15 seconds.
13. Add a quarter of the cut dried chillies and fry for 15 seconds.(above)
14. Use frying sieve to remove cooked lentils, curry leaves and chillies.
15. Place lentils, curry leaves and chillies on kitchen paper to drain excess oil.
16. Repeat frying process for remaining lentils, curry leave and chillies.
17. Once all lentils are cooked, place them on a dish.
18. Add half teaspoon of salt, ground turmeric, chat masala and cumin.
19. Mix well and serve.