When I was younger, dhal was a weekly staple in our home. I remember my mom feeding me at a young age. She would mix rice, butter and dhal with her hands and form a little fistful of dhal bhat. (bhat = rice). To this day, this is a flavor that I will never forget. It’s a meal I will never forget. It’s a memory that I will always have of my mom. Eating from her hands.
As an adult, I’ve realized how versatile dhal can be. It’s been a great way to introduce spices to my babies. It’s been a great side dish to any fry meats or vegetables but also a main dish for my vegetarian daughter. Making this recipe in an instant pot makes life so much easier, especially because I always forget to soak my lentils overnight.
Growing up in Rhode Island, grocery shopping consisted of several stops. Friday nights my mom would take me to the regular local grocery store for the basic essentials, bread, milk and eggs. It was the Saturday morning trips that always felt like an adventure. We would drive into Providence to go to the Chinese markets. One for seafood – which I dreaded because of the fish market smells and quite frankly the crabs and fish eyes scared the hell out of me when I was younger -and another Chinese market right across the street from the fish market for vegetables. The last stop would be the small Indian stores for more vegetables. If it wasn’t a seafood weekend, it was most likely a chicken weekend. For that we’d travel to the famous Federal Hill in Providence where we’d go to Antonelli’s Poultry, the only live poultry store in Rhode Island.
Okay so I have to be completely honest here, I am petrified of preparing crabs. My father has always taken care of the purchasing, killing and cleaning of the crabs. They have always scared me. In fact I remember having a nightmare as a child of a crab chasing me down the stairs at my childhood home. (if my cousin Ameeta is reading this YOU KNOW!) Ha, I know it sounds crazy but I am not exaggerating. So yes, truth be told my dad did clean the crabs for me for this recipe and probably will for as long as he can! lol.
However, if you are like me and this may be the first time you are cleaning a crab, I’ve researched that a humane way of killing crabs is to put them in the freezer for about two hours, then when you take them out you can remove their legs. Remove their top shell and clean out the insides.
Whenever you are making crabs you should always cook the crab within 1 or 2 days of purchasing the crab, while the meat is at its freshest. In the past we’ve tried to freeze crab but the meat becomes hard to get out of the shell and just not as juicy as when it is cooked fresh.