How to cook perfect dal
Not all comfort food transcends cultures. I find it difficult to imagine turning to spam fried rice to mend a broken heart, or stuffed cabbage to banish winter blues (although this recipe does sound pretty damn good), but I fell in love with the soupy, wholesome qualities of dal on our very first meeting.  
 
Unlike many of its British equivalents (mash, hotpot, steamed puddings, even the surprisingly similar pease puddings which preceded the potato in this country), dal is a dish which can comfort all year round: the fresh, sharp spices and clean herbs work as well for me on a cooling summer evening as a dark winter's night. Madhur Jaffrey writes evocatively of the "deep satisfaction" of the dish – "you can take meats and fish and vegetables from an Indian" she says in her Curry Bible, but you cannot take away his dal – "the core of his meal".