Emergency Flu Recovery Lunch: Rice And Dal

Mar 19, 2013 11:31 am

When nothing else will save you from flu symptoms

what to eat when you have the flu
Photo: Andrea_Nguyen on Flickr
No matter what's wrong with you, your stomach will want to keep rice and dal around.

Dear flu shot...fuck you! What the hell? I went and got you, paid 25 stupid bucks, proudly wore my dumb heart-shaped band-aid around like a Girl Scout badge and still spent the last week of my life totally incapacitated and sweating bullets without a sense of taste or smell. Let's explore:

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But more importantly, even if I had been able to taste, I couldn't keep a dang thing down. This week I'm on the mend, but ...well, you don't need to know what happened when I attempted to recover calories with a giant bowl of béchamel-ey macaroni and cheese last night. It was oogly. 

No, there's only one thing that can save me now. It's rice and dal, that simplest of Indian lentil-based staple dishes, and it's saved me many times before. When I had mono, rice and dal. When I managed to get sick of French food during my semester abroad (I don't know how it happened either), rice and dal. I used to improvise a shoddy version in a dollar-store electric kettle at boarding school (also good for boiled eggs, ramen and starting small electric fires). 

Without further ado, the recipe: heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a medium pot, then add half a teaspoon of black mustard seeds. When they "pop," add half a teaspoon of whole cumin seeds, a clove of garlic sliced very thinly, and a large knob of whole peeled ginger. Stir-fry this around for a minute taking care not to burn the spices or garlic, then add half a cup of split yellow lentils, a cup of water and a good shake of salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer until soupy and serve over basmati or other long-grain rice. If you're not dying of plague, a few fresh curry leaves or a dried chili add a lot of flavor. If you are dying of plague, you probably got the same flu shot I did.

This meal will stay down more or less no matter what's wrong with you. It's vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, pretty much totally hypoallergenic and made of stuff your body wants to hang onto — easily digestible protein in the form of skinless lentils made even more easy to digest by boiling it into oblivion, and nice soft rice. Fun fact: it was my first solid food and will probably be the first solid food of whatever offspring I...ugh, talk about keeping it down. I'm getting back into bed.

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