This very odd sounding dish came about after a plea for help from Metacognizant, whose larder was close enough to bare and expendable funds equaled exactly one US dollar. Metacognizant had posted a challenge on their homenode, listing the available ingredients and utensils - the only request was a tasty and wholesome meal.
It was quite a challenge. The ingredients (listed below) were scant at best - but this makes the challenge even more interesting. Now granted, if I had the funds, I would most likely choose to cook something else - but under Metacognizant's conditions, you could do a lot worse.
Rice and Lentil Pancakes for Metacognizant
OK - these pancakes are called dosa, and they are a staple breakfast and snack dish from southern India. They normally contain split black lentils (or Urad dal). Sadly, we do not have the luxury of being so choosy.
220 gm (1/2 lb) basmati rice
80 gm (3 oz) lentils
1-2 tsp salt
In separate containers, soak the rice and lentils in cold water to cover for 4 hours. Drain and keep the soaking water. Separately grind the lentils and rice until you have a smooth paste - adding soaking water to make a thickish batter consistency (similar to normal pancakes). Try and get the paste as smooth as possible - otherwise they will be gritty.
Ideally this will be done in a blender - but it is not impossible to do this in a mortar and pestle. Remember that plenty of south Indian housewives do this every day as your arm starts to ache.
Once ground, combine the two batters together and add the salt (make sure to use plenty). Let the mixture sit for at least 8 hours, or overnight so it ferments slightly. Heat a skillet or frying pan to medium-high and add a tablespoon of oil. Pour a thin layer of the batter into the pan and swirl so it coats the base entirely. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface of the dosa. Turn over and quickly cook the other side.
Traditionally the surface of the pan is rubbed with a cut onion before adding the batter - this is a luxury that Metacognizant can forego this month.
Warm balsamic grape and feta salad
All right - this one may sound a little weird, but we don't have much to play with, and I guarantee that while it won't be the best thing you have ever eaten - it will be far from the worst.
The idea is to make a sweet and sour (agrodolce) dressing out of the balsamic vinegar. Boiling the vinegar down slightly concentrates the sweetness and makes up for Metacognizant's lack of sugar. This is heated in a pan and the grapes are added and allowed to soften slightly. Add the feta, oil and seasonings and stir to combine.
This should be served with the dosa, because they would be pretty plain by themselves.
100 gm (3 oz) feta, cubed
4 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs oil
Place the vinegar into a skillet or fry pan and heat until it is starting to bubble. Boil until it is half the original volume. Add the grapes, stir and immediately take the pan from the heat. Place into a bowl and allow to cool.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir gently, so the grapes and feta don't get crushed. Serve alongside the dosa.
Update - Metacognizant ate the grapes! Hunger wins this round.
25 green grapes
Half a box of lentils
Half a package of feta cheese
Some ground coffee
10 honey lemon cough drops
2 green tea bags
The option of stealing small quantities of peanut butter and jelly from a campus café
The option of going downtown to the garbage can outside of "Pizza Aroma" and scavenging its typical motherlode of pizza crusts