Friday, February 28, 2014

Paris Then and Now--a date with Cara Black

RHYS BOWEN: Every March I look forward to sharing a pub date and subsequent tour with my friend Cara Black. I’m sure most of you know that Cara writes the Aimée Leduc series set in 1990s Paris.  Wonderful, atmospheric books each one taking us to a different arrondissement of the city. 
So hi, Cara. I’m dying to know what the new book is called.
CARA BLACK : It’s called Murder in Pigalle and comes out March 4 - same day as yours, Rhys. Set in that that naughty neighborhood of the Moulin Rouge at the base of Montmartre. 
RHYs: That’s amazing because this time my Molly Murphy book is also not only set in Paris but is centered just off Place Pigalle. And I swear we didn’t talk to each other about it before we wrote! So what drew you to set your book there--yes I know you’re working your way around all the arrondissements, but why Pigalle
CARA: I have an old friend who has an apartment in the neighborhood. She raised her family there and I love to visit her. It’s an area full of history—Degas lived there. Chopin. George Sand. And it’s like two different places—by day families picnic in the park and at night the less salubrious folk come out. It’s also the theater district with thirteen live theaters still going strong and lots of theater folk living nearby.
 So we have the mixture of the wholesome and the not so wholesome.
RHYS: This is so fascinating for me because I also chose the area just off Pigalle because my story has to do with the art world of 1905 Paris. Do you know that there was a market for artist’s models every Monday morning in Place Pigalle? Degas also has a cameo role in my books, as do Picasso, Gertrude Stein and many others. I have several scenes that take place at the Café des Novelles Athenes…
CARA: Which I also mention, in fact I have a murder there!  I’m fascinated that it’s an area of lovely old mansions with inner courtyards.  In fact it was really countrified until not too long ago.
RHYS: You’re right. A lot of my book takes place on Montmartre and In 1905 it was rural—little wooden shacks among vegetable gardens with goats grazing. Most of those artists garrets had no heat or light (remember La Boheme?) That’s why the cafes were so popular. One could sit all day in the warmth and chat for the price of a cup of coffee.
So Cara, you’ve said why you chose to set the story there, but what about the actual story?  I know each of your books seems to have a fabulous real-life story trigger. Does this one?
CARA: It was based on a real case. I had lunch with a friend who is a retired homicide inspector and was told about a case that happened in 1998—exactly the time I am writing about. The police were searching for a serial rapist who targeted young girls on their way home from school. The police couldn’t catch him. Parents formed vigilante groups and beat up the wrong guy.  In Paris, as you know, each quartier is like a village and these attacks shocked everyone. Finally he was caught and seemed really normal and unassuming. He was sentenced and killed in prison. 
So in my story Aimee is pregnant but asked to find a missing girl so it hits close to home.  This is a book about mothers, parenting, about trying to separate personal life from a job and the toll it takes.
RHYS: Aimee pregnant? That is such a game-changer for her. I’m dying to see how she handles it. And I love the way you always bring in real events. I try and do the same. It makes the stories matter more, somehow. In my book part of the story involves the Dreyfus affair and how it divided Paris.
CARA: The big real event that comes into my story is the soccer World Cup, held in Paris in 1998. World cup fever is sweeping the city, with crowds and rioting fans, making it a time of heightened danger. 
RHYS: This all sounds terrific, Cara. I’m dying to get my hands on a copy. When we go on tour together you can drive and I’ll read! And for those of you who are interested, both Cara and I have our tour schedules up on our websites. We’ll be doing events in the Bay Area and in Southern California together at the end of March. Come and say hello and hear about Paris, then and now. Thanks for stopping by, Cara. See you soon.

Cara's website is and mine is

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I Left My Heart in...

RHYS BOWEN: Like my Jungle Red sisters I moved away from home to go to college and never really went back. All the time I was growing up I had a fascination with Australia. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that one of my best friends at school had recently moved from Australia and seemed very exotic to me. Also my uncle Uncle lived there and he would send me a book every Christmas called "Wonderful Australia in Pictures" or a similar title. I'd pour over the color photographs of sunkissed beaches, red rocks, strange animals and dream of going there someday. After college I was working with the BBC in London and I got a chance to meet the head of Australian Broadcasting. I told him of my interest in Australia and he offered me a job, So I packed up and headed halfway across the world to Sydney.
I was entranced by the clear bright light, the strange birds and animals, the blue water of the harbor. It was truly like living in a Disney movie. Also the people were friendly and didn't take life to seriously. How can you not love a country where every business closes to watch the running of the Melbourne Cup horse race?

But I never had a chance to settle in properly because I met a man. An Englishman working for Qantas. And I married him, dear reader.  But he was on his way to California, so I found myself living in San Francisco instead. I've not regretted coming to the States, but each time I've returned to Australia (to visit my parents who moved there, and later my brother who still lives there) I've wondered whether my destiny was supposed to be there and I blew it.

I started writing this theme because I'm fascinated that there are some places in this world where we feel instantly as if we belong. I've never had much affinity for London. I lived there. I know my way around very well, but it doesn't call to me with a siren song. But Paris--that's another matter. The moment I arrive in Paris I feel as if I should never leave again. I could sit for hours at a sidewalk cafe, soaking up the atmosphere. Or stroll along the Seine, browsing at the bouquinistes stalls. Or the Impressionists at the Musee d"Orsay. I feel alive every minute I'm there. I could easily live in one of those top floor apartments with the balcony. Paris is much in my thoughts recently because I set my upcoming Molly Murphy book, CITY OF DARKNESS AND LIGHT, there and had a great excuse to wander all over the city, finding the perfect places for my plot to play out.

So what makes some places feel like home to us while we are untouched by others. Did I live in Paris in a previous life? And what drew me to Australia? Do you think there is really a "right' place for us to live, a destiny, if you will?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: When I was a--oh, I don't know, teenager, in Indianapolis,in the 1960's I always wanted to live in Boston. ALWAYS. I'd never been there, and I'm not even sure where this idea came from.  When I moved to Washington DC in the early 70's I adored it. Atlanta for five years--fine, gorgeous. Then at one point, I got job offers in Dallas, San Francisco, Washington DC and Boston. I visited all four places--and whoa. I'd been right since 1963. I enjoy Boston every day.

But when I go to Paris? Yes, indeed. I could live there in a heartbeart.

HALLIE EPHRON: I grew up in southern California, Beverly Hills to be precise, and I confess whenever I go back there I feel old, fat, ad poor. Spent my college years and after in New York City. And yes, I feel completely at home when I'm there. I wouldn't want to live there, but I do so love to visit. Boston still feels like a place I'm visiting.

RHYS: This is funny, Hallie, because I still feel that I'm visiting in San Francisco or in Arizona. It's like a permanent vacation in the latter and the nagging worry about when do we go home?

LUCY BURDETTE: I would take a couple of months in Paris, New York, or Rome--anytime! I've lived a fair number of places--Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut, Tennessee, Florida--and managed to feel like all of them were home eventually. But I have what my husband calls a deep "taproot." Meaning it's not that easy to transplant me. In a new place, I wilt for a while, feeling listless and down. Just like a plant. (Confession: I spent 5 months in France during my junior year and I did not take advantage of the possibilities...)

I had this conversation with a sister-in-law recently and mentioned how I get homesick when I travel very long. "Homesick for what?" she asked. "I don't get that at all."

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Rhys, I feel about London the way you feel about Paris. Instantly at home, instantly "right." I've never had an explanation. Past lives is as good as any.  Paris would be my next choice. I can see myself living there.  And an odd third choice, considering the first two--I love LA. I don't know why. I know it's smoggy and the traffic is terrible and it's dreadfully expensive, but my heart just lifts every time I go there. Weird.

So why have I never left Texas permanently? I love Lucy's husband's description of a "tap root." I think Texas is my tap root. Even in London, I start to miss Texas if I am away too long.

RHYS: Past lives or just our personalities? Do you have a place you feel drawn to or destined to live? How important is a sense of place to you? Obviously very important to us, as you see from our writing.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Debs on the Sound of Broken Glass.

RHYS BOWEN: Today we Jungle Red Writers are dancing up and down and waving flags and tooting horns because the trade paperback of Deborah’s SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS is released to an eagerly waiting world.

I was hooked on Debs’s books long before I met her. I loved the sense of place and the real, complex characters who people her books. So I thought I’d interview her today on Jungle Red.

Okay, let’s get started—Debs, your stories all have such a strong sense of place. How do you work? Do you have a story idea and then decide where to set it, or do you discover a place and then think of a story to set there?

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Rhys, no two books have ever been the same. In some books the setting has come first and I’ve come up with a story to fit. But THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS was just the opposite. I had had a story in mind for a couple of books but I didn’t know where it should be set.

A friend, who was living in Crystal Palace at the time, kept telling me I should set a book there. When I went for a visit, I knew instantly that it was the perfect place for this particular story.

RHYS: Crystal Palace figured in my childhood. I used to skate at Streatham ice rink and drove past Crystal Palace on the way there. I heard my grandmother’s tales of the crystal palace that burned down and was always sorry I couldn’t see it. So what drew you to set a book here? 

DEBS: Crystal Palace is such a unique part of London. It is the highest point between London and the south coast, so the views to the north of London and the Thames are spectacular. It’s geographically unique not only because of the elevation, but because it straddles the boundaries of five London boroughs, Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham. Then there is the history of the palace itself. The original Crystal Palace was built in Hyde Park in 1851 for the Great Exhibition. Afterwards, the entire structure was dismantled and rebuilt at the top of Sydenham Hill. But the new version was even bigger and more spectacular—it was one of the wonders of the Victorian world, compared to the mythical palace of Kubla Khan.

The palace was still a tourist attraction when it burned to the ground in one terrible night in 1936. The grounds then became Crystal Palace Park.

The destruction of this fabulous creation was something that resonated with me throughout the novel. But there was one more element, and that is the isolation of the Crystal Palace Triangle (the main roads form a triangle at the top of the hill.) The two railway stations are both down steep sides of the hill, and if there is snow and ice, the area can become completely cut off. I knew there was a way an ice storm would fit into the story!

RHYS: I love the way that minor characters from past books suddenly get a starring role. When you created Andy did you plan to have him feature in a story?

DEBS: Andy Monahan first appears two books previously as a minor character, a talented rock guitarist in his late twenties, disenchanted with his band and his life.  He was created as a witness who could tell Duncan and his partner Doug something about a murder victim.

But the instant he walked onto the page and I started writing from his viewpoint, I knew he had a story to tell. When I visited Crystal Palace, I knew that was where Andy had grown up, and that what had happened to him there when he was thirteen would drive the front part of the story.

In this story Gemma is the active detective, Duncan is home baby-sitting. Tell us about this decision for a role reversal.

DEBS: In the previous book, NO MARK UPON HER, Gemma is home on family leave, caring for the couple’s foster daughter, Charlotte. I thought turn about was fair play!

Gemma has a new job in THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS, working on a murder team in South London (Brixton) with her colleague Melody Talbot. I wanted her investigation of the murder in Crystal Palace to have center stage, but there are things going on the background with Duncan that made his being away from work an important part of the plot. And it was an interesting way to explore his character.

RHYS: I love the title (especially as broken glass only makes a sound when you walk over it). How did you come up with it.

There is an old rock song called I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass—a nice touch, since much of the book has to do with rock music.

But the real metaphor for me was the destruction of the Crystal Palace and how that reverberated down through the years, paralleling the destruction of Andy’s friendship with his neighbor Nadine in the book and the consequences of their shattered relationship. That’s why the glass is already broken, but you can still hear the echoes.  Made sense to me, anyway!

RHYS: And we’re all eagerly awaiting the new Duncan and Gemma book in September. Can you give us a little glimpse into what’s coming?

DEBS: It’s called TO DWELL IN DARKNESS, and we find out what happens to Duncan after the end of BROKEN GLASS. Gemma’s colleague Melody Talbot witnesses a young man burn to death in St. Pancras International Railway Station when Andy is giving a concert there. When it becomes Duncan’s investigation, Melody is a valuable witness. In Brixton, Gemma is working on a difficult case of her own.
I don’t think I can say more than that without getting in trouble for spoilers! 

PS: The author photo included was taken by my friend Steve Ullathorne in Antenna Studios in Crystal Palace. Antenna Studios was the model for the fictional recording studio in the book. Lots of well-know recording artists have worked there, including Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine. Great atmosphere!
RHYS: So if you missed The Sound of Broken Glass in harcover last year run, not walk, to your nearest bookstore. You are in for a treat!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Life Lessons I may never learn.

RHYS BOWEN: A couple of years ago I wrote a blog about life lessons I may never learn. One of the first lessons on the list was never to try out a new hairdresser just before I'm about to go on a book tour.
So guess what I did today? I went to a new salon. One that came with good reviews and used organic products. And I knew I was in trouble when my stylist asked how much I wanted taken off. Then she snipped maybe an eighth of an inch and asked if it all right so far. Then another eighth, very tentatively. Since I didn't trust her skill to take off more I left it at that. So my bangs are still in my eyes. My hair is still straggly at the back of my neck and too long to style properly.
So what do I do? Find another salon before I go on tour next week? Or...another of the life lessons from my list.. snip at my bangs myself?

Here is my list. How many are you guilty of?

Ten Life Lessons I have yet to Learn (and may never do so)

  1. I can’t trim my bangs as well as my hairdresser. I should especially never try this on the night before I leave for a convention.
  2. On a similar theme: I should never try out a new hairdresser on the day before a book tour or photo shoot.
  3. Shoes from catalogs never fit me. And there is a second part to this: items in a catalog never look as good in real life. This may be because they are modeled by 18 year old size 00s and pinned for the pix..
  4. A review is just one person’s opinion. I keep telling myself this but the least little snipe sends me into deep depression.
  5. If I take only one white shirt on a trip, there will always be turbulence on the flight and I'll get coffee spatters on it. 
  6. I should never try out a new recipe on the night I have guests I want to impress.
  7. I should not buy something just because it’s a bargain. My closet is full of such items, not ever loved and hardly ever worn.
  8. Worrying gets you nowhere. I am a champion worrier.
  9. I have no control over the success of a book after it leaves my hands. I can work myself into exhaustion setting up events, touring, making postcards, doing radio interviews and in the end it all comes down to the publisher, timing and luck.
  10. I can’t please all of the people all of the time. There is never going to be one book that is equally loved by the whole population. So some readers will always complain when there is a touch of romance in my books and others will complain that there is not enough romance in my books. I should therefore only write to please myself.
  11. Okay, so I can’t count either. But if there’s only one life lesson I should have learned is that life is short and wonderful, there’s no going back, we’re only celebrating this day once, so make the most of it.
Who would like to share life lessons that they have never learned but would like to?
So how about you?. Are there any life lessons you’ve finally learned the hard way, or are you like me—destined to make the same mistakes over and over.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Can't Live Without My.....

RHYS BOWEN: We all have some remnant of the past that we can't live without, even though we know that better, easier things have been invented. My husband John insists on making loose tea in a teapot and grinding his coffee from beans every day. For me it's notebooks. I have a Dayrunner from 1988 that I still treasure. Although I don't use it daily now, I still check addresses in it, keep a list of all my flights and every New Year's eve I write down what I have achieved and what I plan to achieve in the next year.

And I always carry a little notebook around with me, even though I have Sticky Notes on my laptop, Evernote on everything, Notes for my iPHone and Dragon dictation for sudden thoughts. So why can't I trust the electronic media with my brilliant ideas? Especially for thoughts on the books I'm working on. It must have something to do with knowing a large meteor strike won't destroy my words forever. Or is it that I enjoy seeing them on the page? When I actually put them down they become real, no longer in my imagination, but out there, for anyone to read. And I can underline the words that seem important, doodle flowers while I think, draw lines to show connections in the plot.

I also write TO DO lists on the back of envelopes at dentist's offices and while John drives. I have to know what's ahead for the day and the week and whether I can handle it without becoming a basket case.  I keep all the little notebooks, even when they are full and flicking back through them is like opening a treasure trove: the first lines of Her Royal Spyness being played with. Thoughts on a new book that might take place on Ellis Island, or a lost child, or notes on Paris art world. My whole career evolving in a stack of pretty note books. Yes, they are always pretty. I must have attractive books to put my thoughts into.

So how about you, Reds. Electronic notes or pen and paper doodles? And anything else you can't live without?

HALLIE EPHRON: Like you, Rhys, I'm addicted to paper. And I love the feel of using a pencil that's just been sharpened.
I've used the same day planner for more than ten years and I don't plan to give it up. Every year I invest ten bucks in a new calendar insert and I'm good to go. I keep the little booklet with my tax records, and when my computer dies I don't lose it all. We also still print photographs and put them in albums, in spite of having tons of them online.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I keep a yearly pocket-sized calendar despite the fact that I use Google calendar to coordinate my life (I love being able to confirm an event on email and then dump all the info right into my calendar.) I like the permanence of the paper copy - the Cloud may drift away, the Polar Vortex may freeze all electricity and keep my computer from working, but I have those little leather or cloth bound books lined up in the parlour bookcase, and they're not going anywhere.
I also do all the work on a book that's not actually writing in composition notebooks, one per novel. Ideas about themes, character sketches, plot trees, chapter outlines; it all has to be pen or pencil on paper. I experience a different quality of thinking when I'm physically marking something down. It's not just the ability to scribble out and make circles and arrows and boxes (which I do.) I tried one of those programs that lets you fool around with symbols and even add pictures and link to other things. I couldn't use it. For me, keyboard + screen = composing. Pencil + paper = proposing.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Yup, day planner on paper, a slim little book, exactly the same one every year. I love it, an dI can see the whole week, and the flow of the time. Yes, I have it all on my Outlook, too, but I still like it on paper.
Book notes? Here's a photo of a page in my "formal" book notebook--and a scrawled flurry of ideas on a random piece of note paper. I have notes everyone, like Lucy, on envelopes, little bits of paper, everywhere!   Interestingly--often I never look at them again. But writing them out makes my brain work. 

LUCY BURDETTE: No paper dayplanner for me. I've moved on to the computer calendar that syncs with my iphone. But I haven't mastered electronic notes. I tear into quarters pieces of computer paper that I would otherwise recycle, and those are for my notes. At night while I'm reading often I think of ideas or scraps of dialogue and jot them on these paper.


A lot of what I do these days is on a computer. The hubby and I sync our e-calenders, which has actually been pretty useful as we each have a lot of travel and things going on. 

When I'm roaming a city, doing research, I like the notebook application on my phone — it even has virtual yellow lined paper! Then you can just email it to yourself... No need to retype. (Have any of you found that the more you type, the worse your handwriting gets? I actually HAD to switch over to notes on the phone because I can't read my own handwriting...)

However, for plots, character sketches, and outlines, it's pencil on a yellow legal pad for me. It just feels right.... A cup of coffee is good, too....

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I put everything in my Google calendar, which coordinates with my phone (most of the time) and sync's with Rick's calendar. It's incredibly useful, but--I still hang onto paper. I buy a new Quo Vadis diary every year. I can see a week at a glance, put down to-do notes, and day's writing goals. I don't quite trust the Cloud--I know people who have lost years' worth of Outlook calendars... and I think, as Julia commented about writing, that our brains just process written material differently.  I keep two spiral notebooks. One is my everyday record of things; phone calls, to-do lists, travel confirmations, instructions from the vet... You name it, it goes in that notebook, with a date. When I've filled a notebook, I used a label maker to put the beginning and end dates of the notebook on the front cover, then I stick it on the shelf on the Chinese secretary in my office. It's a messy record, but I can go back years and see what happened when. I keep another notebook for those writing notes, one for each book. Plot ideas, character sketches, bits of scenes and dialogue. Often I'll write the beginning of the next day's scene in the notebook before I go to sleep. Somehow paper is liberating. Interesting.
PS: Rhys, you know I'm with John on the tea:-)

RHYS: I have to confess that I do love good loose tea. I just don't enjoy cleaning the tealeaves from the teapot. Although now we have an infuser built it. Brilliant.  But aren't we a bunch of dinosaurs, clinging to our paper notes? I think we're all afraid a meteor strike will rob the world  of our prose and ideas!
So how about you? Who has gone completely electronic and who still clings to paper like most of us Reds?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Good News...and a visit to India!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Gigi Pandian is having a good month. Putting it mildly. Sometimes wonderful things happen to wonderful people and this is one of those times.

In the recent weeks, here's Gigi's life: 

An Agatha nomination for her locked-room mystery short story "The Hindi Houdini" 

Her combined book sales pushed her into Amazon's Top 100 Most Popular Authors ("briefly", she insists on saying)

The first book in the series stayed #1 for days on the Amazon Kindle Cozy and Women Sleuth categories, top 10 Mystery/Thriller/Suspense Kindle Books, and top 10 overall NOOK book sales. 

AND she got a Library Journal review: "Pandian’s second series entry sets a playful tone yet provides enough twists to keep mystery buffs engaged, too. The author streamlines an intricate plot....[and] brings a dynamic freshness to her cozy." – Library Journal

AND her first book, ARTIFACT, hit the USA today Bestseller list!

AND--Her newest book, PIRATE VISHNU was published from Henery. All in all, very very nice.  And--she cooks! As you will read.

Adventures in India and Indian Cooking 
                       with Gigi Pandian

     Gigi is currently celebrating the release of a new novel –and also news that her locked-room mystery short story “The Hindi Houdini” has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Short Story!

Forget about Indiana Jones. Jaya Jones is swinging into action, using both her mind and wits to solve a mystery… Readers will be ensnared by this entertaining tale.”—RT Book Reviews

My new novel, PIRATE VISHNU, came out earlier this month, and I’ve been having a blast talking about India, where part of the book takes place. To shake things up here on Jungle Red today, I thought I’d share a story about India AND one of my favorite Indian food recipes – one that’s both delicious and easy.

I was born and raised in California, but my dad is from India, so I’ve had the opportunity to travel there several times. India can be an overwhelming country – it’s massively crowded, oppressively hot, and the foods are oh-so-spicy – but once you scratch the surface, it opens up its charms. The more times I visit, the more I want to return.

On my last visit in 2010, I was in the midst of drafting the second novel in my mystery series. As a follow-up to a treasure hunt that took Jaya Jones to the Highlands of Scotland, I was setting the new book in both San Francisco and the southern tip of India. (Yes, I picked a series premise well! A treasure hunt mystery series means I have no choice but to travel to fascinating places!)

I thought I had my twisty puzzle plot all figured out – until we arrived in India got on the open road along the south-western coast of the country.
Yes, that’s an elephant sharing the road with an autorickshaw (three-wheeled taxi), cars, motorcycles, and bikes!

Covering hundreds of miles on Indian roads to visit family from Trivandrum up to Bangalore, I knew that the experience would make its way into the book – although I didn’t yet realize how instrumental it would be to the plot. The colorful hand-painted trucks, the scents unleashed by the monsoon rains, and the confounding roads lacking street signs stirred up my imagination. When we were studying a map on the way to Kochi, the juxtaposition between the picture on the map and the reality we were experiencing hit me like a bolt of lightning. That moment gave me a plot twist that became central to the story.

Here’s the scoop about PIRATE VISHNU (the second book in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series, following ARTIFACT):

A century-old treasure map of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast.
Sacred riches from India.
Two murders, one hundred years apart.
And a love triangle…
Historian Jaya Jones has her work cut out for her.

1906. Shortly before the Great San Francisco Earthquake, Pirate Vishnu strikes the San Francisco Bay. An ancestor of Jaya’s who came to the U.S. from India draws a treasure map…

PRESENT DAY. Over a century later, the cryptic treasure map remains undeciphered. From San Francisco to the southern tip of India, Jaya pieces together her ancestor’s secrets, maneuvers a complicated love life she didn’t count on, and puts herself in the path of a killer to restore a revered treasure.

And now, here’s one of my favorite Indian recipes. It’s a variation on a classic dish – my spin on the dish was a happy accident I discovered when cooking one day while I was busy. I let the onions cook longer than I’d meant to, and they caramelized. Instead of ditching the onions, I went ahead with the recipe – and it turned out even more delicious than the original!


1 cup yellow split peas (or Indian yellow lentils, called toor dalh)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds

Rinse the yellow split peas, then cook them with 2 cups of water, turmeric, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes. Warm the olive oil in a skillet on medium heat and add the sliced onion and cumin seeds. Cook the onion slowly for the duration of the time the lentils are cooking. This will caramelize the onion, bringing out its natural sugars. Stir the onion mixture into the cooked lentils.

Thanks for having me on Jungle Reds today! Do you have a favorite dish that was inspired by a trip you’ve taken?

Connect with Gigi on her website , Twitter, and Facebook