Bilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed, illustrated by Anoosha Syed
Bilal Cooks Daal
Published by Salaam Reads
Purchased for my school library with grant funding
Bilal Cooks Daal touches on what can be a challenging difference for children of immigrants - the sharing of food from your familial culture. While Bilal's friends are curious and eager to help, there is a moment when they are also unsure about this new dish they have agreed to try. That said, the excitement and ultimate enjoyment that Bilal's friends experience as they try something new is as warming and affirming as a fragrant dish of daal.
Bilal is out biking with his friends when his father, Abu, tells him it's time to start making dinner. When his friends wonder why he has to start cooking dinner so early in the day, Bilal enthusiastically replies, "This dish takes time. It's the best meal of all. It's DAAL!" Curious, Morgan and Elias ask Bilal questions about this South Asian legume stew. Bilal invites them inside to help, showing them the variety of daal to choose from and the aromatic spices to add to the pot.
Overhearing Morgan and Elias whispering about the funny look and funny smell of the daal and wondering if they will like it, Bilal begins to feel a "little, tiny bit worried that maybe, just maybe, his friends won't like daal at all." Heading out to play while the daal takes its time to cook, Bilal and Morgan and Elias talk about the daal, piquing the interest of friends. As the sun begins to set, Abu calls Bilal - it's almost time! Before they can eat, Bilal and his growing gang of friends help with the finishing touches to the nutty, creamy, warm, soup-like stew. Onions, garlic, lemons, fresh cilantro, naan and rice are prepared. Bilal watches as his friends take a spoonful of daal, "yums," "mmmms," and slurps abounding. Saeed ends with these wonderful words,
Daal is tiny. Daal is tough. But with a little time and a lot of patience, it becomes the softest, tastiest, best thing in the whole wide world. And the best part is sharing it with friends. That's why Bilal loves daal so much.
An author's note about daal and a recipe for Chana Daal close out this marvelous book.