Friday, June 11, 2021

Ferengi gookla and other culinary disasters

A few weeks ago, I saw a fabulous recipe for red lentil curry. I love red lentils and I love curry, so this seemed like a sublime combination.

I had to wait until after a trip to the city to make it, however, since the recipe called for a couple of spicy ingredients I didn't have on hand, namely Thai red curry paste and something called garam masala. However I found them easily enough and brought home one of each.

Okay, maybe not precisely. The store didn't carry garam masala, but it did have something called tikka masala. I took a chance and bought it.

A couple days ago, I pulled together all the necessary ingredients. Note the majority of the recipe calls for red lentils, potatoes, and onions thrown into a slow cooker with a bunch of spices. What could go wrong?

So I peeled and chopped and diced, and put everything in the slow cooker for several hours.

By dinnertime, it looked great. I added the last ingredient (plain yogurt, an acceptable substitute for coconut milk) and stirred it in.

Then I made some brown rice, put the red lentil curry over the top, and prepared to be wowed.

The results, to put it charitably, were underwhelming. The dish was bland and mushy. Don and I added ever-increasing amounts of spices to make it more palatable, but in the end the whole batch went into the burn barrel as inedible.

Don dubbed this dish "Ferengi gookla" and somehow it fit.

This culinary disaster brings to mind a comical post I saw recently entitled "30 Vintage Recipes That Are So Questionable, It’s Hard To Imagine What The Dishes Should Taste Like." The entries (entrées?) were comical enough (mostly involving desperate 1950s concepts of elegant dining), but one contribution was so revolting that it stopped me in my tracks. In fact, I tried describing it to Don and was laughing so hard I was gasping and unable to get the words out.

Are you ready for this? Tuna 'n waffles!

The reason I was laughing so hard is I loathe tuna with every fibre of my being. The very smell makes me want to puke. Seriously, it's the only food that I find so revolting that I cannot fathom how anyone (are you hearing this, Don and kids?) can possibly consume it.

And to pair something so obnoxious with something as tasty as waffles (and even cream of mushroom soup) makes me question the sanity of whoever thought this up.

So, in light of my Ferengi gookla and some insane person's tuna 'n waffles, let's hear your experiences with your own culinary disasters. It will give everyone a chuckle.


  1. Tomato aspic was pushed a lot in the 5o's or 60's. I saw a lot of pictures of it - always loaded with veggies. It was supposed to be an elegant dish to bring to potlucks, etc. What could possibly be more gross than veggie jello?

  2. Hi! In my recipe for lentils curry you sauteé in oil all the spices (quite a lot with regular curry powder and some red peppers for heat), sauteé the vegetables and let it simmer in tomato sauce. You only add the cooked lentils at the end with the coconut cream, unsweetened greek yogurt or cream cheese (I use home-made). Serve over rice. It's quite good and you can even made it in advance and after freezing its even better (I do it with my spouted canned lentils and sauce separately).

  3. I also had an epic failure making a curry dish in the crockpot. Although it smelled great, I took one taste and headed toward the kitchen trash can. To my family's credit, they were still sitting at the table trying to make their way through it. Finally, someone said 'what are you doing???' And my reply was 'calling for pizza delivery'. Oh...the chears from the family. Then, as one unit, they rose from the table and headed toward the trash can.
    It's the only time I've marked a big X through a page in a cookbook with the enscription "Ick".
    SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

  4. Perhaps it was bland because Garam masala is a spice blend, not a sauce. A tablespoon of a spice blend will add more flavor than a tablespoon of a simmering sauce. You purchased a finished sauce that you add to other ingredients such as the lentils, potatoes, and onions. If you do an internet search for "How do you make garam masala from scratch?", you'll get lots of recipes.

    1. Yep. This. ( I cook a reasonable amount of Indian dishes) - that pre-made Tikka Masala sauce probably had less than a teaspoon of Garam Masala spice mix in the entire jar... and all the other ingredients were probably not called for in the recipe you were making. I've screwed up a number of Asian dishes trying to substitute ingredients for ones I the recipe called for that I didn't have, so I definitely sympathize. That Tikka Masala sauce is decent on a frozen chicken thrown int the crockpot on low for 6 hours, though - mild enough the kids like it, and one of my "We are having too busy a day for me to cook for real" recipes, lol.

  5. My winner was crock pot liver (actually saw a recipe for it that I decided to try). Have you ever eaten liver flavored potatoes and carrots? To further help us remember the meal we could smell it for days in the house.

  6. I didn't make this but was invited to dinner by a dear elderly couple. My husband was in the Navy and on board ship so they had kind of taken me under their wings. As I walked up to the door, I was met by a very obnoxious smell. Thinking that it was something from outside I went in the house and the smell was even worse. She was making one of their favorite dishes.....kidney pie. I explainted that I had had a very hard day at work and was suffering from a terrible headache and had just dropped by to say that I was sorry but could not stay for dinner. Everytime I changed a wet diaper after that experience I remembered the smell of kidney pie cooking. Ugh!

    1. That's some quick thinking, lol!

  7. My mother made a fish dish occasionally that I didn't really like: dry cod fillets topped with spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese. My brother and I referred to it as pizza fish.

    That might not sound like much of a disaster, but it was pretty traumatic to have to eat at the time.

  8. Wieners Creole. Even the dog wouldn't eat it.

  9. My mother made homemade waffles topped with tuna in a white sauce and maple syrup. She made it like a picnic on the living room coffee table. We kids were fascinated with the waffle maker and loved it. I found out years later she made it at the end of the month when money was tight. It was a special treat for us however.

  10. Perhaps this video will help you understand what went wrong.

  11. I sadly do not have anything to add in the culinary department due to my dislike of the cooking process, however the way you describe you distaste for tuna is exactly how I feel about onions. I once saw my mother in law eat an onion like an apple, I almost fainted. However I can grow them like nothing else will grow, make good bug repellents and I give them all away.

  12. I chuckled because my worst cooking events have always involved dishes with garam masala, or trying to create my own. And I like to pick up vintage cookbooks at antique stores and there’s one book from the 50s, from the Heinz ketchup company, that has a recipe with ketchup mixed with peanut butter. I can’t even think about it.

  13. Hi Friend!

    Renewal for .org and .net are due. I have renewed them for another year @ $35. Consider it my donation to your wonderful site. I will continue to support as long as I am able.

    All is well here in southern Idaho. Hope you and Don are enjoying life as much as you deserve.

    aka The Orange Jeep Dad

    1. Oh wow -- thank you! Glad things are going well for you.

      - Patrice

  14. Years ago I made tuna sauce with peas and put it on waffles. There was no syrup. It was great and the family loved it. I stopped when the waffle maker broke.

  15. Now Spam is a different story. I tried it once and couldn't stomach it. Literally. I tried it a few years later and the same thing. I guess I'm a slow learner.

  16. Good morning Patrice! My many cooking disasters could fill a book all on their own... However,one thing I can do well is make Red Lentil Curry. We eat that recipe a lot. Garam Masala makes a huge difference over Tikka Masala. (Especially if that Tikka is a sauce in a jar.) It's a game changer. Just a little bit of Garam Masala sprinkled over cut up butternut squash that's been tossed lightly in olive oil before roasting elevates that dish to an entirely new level. Don't give up on the Red Curry Lentils! I get my garam masala online - our stores out here still don't carry it in the spice section. Good Luck!

  17. Cream of Tarter... horrible! It has no place in my!

  18. Tikka Masala tastes quite different to Garam Masala, not wonder the dish tasted weird, lol.

  19. Chances are good there's an Indian market in the nearest mid-to-large metropolitan area near you or your daughter that's still on dry land. If you can't find one she probably can. USPS probably doesn't have a hazmat fee on it - yet. So, if you want to try again....

  20. Post Alley CrackpotJune 15, 2021 at 5:07 PM

    Thai red curry paste and readymade Indian tikka masala sauce are pretty much incompatible.

    Adding coconut cream or milk to the mixture makes them even more so.

    A suggestion then: since both of you appear not to like super-spicy food, just a bit of spice, why not find a good set of British Indian Restaurant curry guides?

    My guides (still packed away) came from Graham Chapman's Curry Club in the UK back in the 1990s.

    There are plenty of these guides today to choose from, but the British Indian Restaurant curry is very likely what you're really looking for.

    What you managed to make could otherwise be described as I Can't Believe It's Not Masoor Dhal. :-)

    The pre-packaged paperback novel sized boxes of spices at Indian shops are a reasonable value. National, Shan, and MDH are decent brands for these pre-packaged spice boxes, plus they come with instructions that will do in the absence of personal recipes.

    But since it appears you're new to this, why not pick up a few Indian readymade meal pouches to heat up just to try a few things? That's quite a bit cheaper than going out to Indian restaurants just so you can try a dish or two before making these things yourself.

    MTR and Haldiram's are decent brands for the Indian readymade pouches, the latter generally being a bit more tasty, especially for the paneer dishes.

    But do keep in mind that these pouches err on the mild side because they're the export version of what's made for the Indian Army.

    Also, tikka masala is so much last decade now: the British Indian Restaurant curry has moved on to the Jalfrezi.

    Up to your neck in tomatoes this year? Try the British version of a Rogan Josh to use them up.

  21. I’m with you, Patrice.
    Tuna is cat food as is canned salmon.