The person I’m thinking of always resists being described as brave in the way that they went about facing their gruelling treatment, as they say that they had no choice. That’s true, but they showed amazing fortitude and strength of character through 8 months of chemo and 4 weeks of radiotherapy (and all the associated feelings of ‘nurgh’ – a very evocative word), and I was very proud of them. That person was already a pretty healthy eater, and didn’t especially change their diet in the light of their diagnosis and treatment, but the most notable change in their relationship with food was that they developed a truly ENORMOUS appetite! It’s a shame that steak can’t be prescribed on the NHS. One memorable evening they ate dinner in a restaurant and then shrugged and ordered another whole main course. Another time they challenged the staff at a pub as to whether they really meant ‘as many eggs as you like’ on the Sunday brunch – and certainly did their best to test the promise. So curry with extra daal and home-made naan seemed like an appropriate way to celebrate their return to normality.
Since that person’s happy outcome I’ve become very aware of cooking with foods which might prevent cancers and other diseases, and increase the body’s chance of fighting them. I would love it if more people had a happy ending to their brushes with this nasty disease. So, I’m sending my banana daal to Mele Cotte’s second Cooking to Combat Cancer event, happy that I am still sharing hearty portions of healthy food with my particular friend five years after their treatment ended. They’re still waiting for their radioactive superpowers to arrive though.
Banana daal (from The accidental vegetarian)
1 onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2.5 cm piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsp vegetable oil
225g red lentils, well rinsed and drained (I was a ditzo and forgot to check on the lentil supplies in advance, and so had to substitute lentilles vertes)
700ml/1 ¼ pints warmed stock
Pinch ground cumin, ground coriander, garam masala
4 firm bananas, thinly sliced
Fry onion, garlic and ginger and the oil over a low heat for about 10 mins, until soft and golden. Add turmeric and cook 1 minute
Add lentils and fry 1-2 mins
Add warmed stock and bring to the boil, then simmer 15 mins
Add spices, season and cook a further 10 mins
A couple of minutes before serving fold in the bananas and warm through