Lentil Dahl

1 Aug

Lentil Dahl

After a girl at work bought in some dahl for lunch, I just couldn’t get it out my head.  So I picked up some chilies on the way home and this is what I created.  I used a mix of green lentils and puy lentils (because that is what we had in the cupboard), but there is a whole world of knowledge behind the simple dahl.

In Indian, Nepali, Pakistani, Sri Lankan cuisines dahl is the cornerstone, a staple food that varies across the region, across the climates and throughout the seasons.  Yellow split peas are probably the most commonplace, the most well known, and have that recognizable yellow colour (obviously), but dahls can be made from a whole variety of split peas, lentils, beans and chickpeas.

I love a thick creamy dahl, as seen in the hilly and mountainous regions because of its high protein content.  But in the more tropical climates of southern India, you tend to see more watery dahls, to help cope with the dehydration and make a lighter meal.

Having said all this, my approach to dahls, is that almost any split pea or lentil will do.  Feel free to play around with the thickness by adding more water to get make a soup like consistency, or simmering off the excess water to get a thicker, more porridge-like viscosity.

Serves 4

The ingredients:

250g lentils/split peas (I used a mix of green and puy lentils)
1 litre vegetable stock (gluten free)
2 cloves garlic
2cm root ginger
2 tsp turmeric
Salt
2 green chilies
50g butter (or you can use ghee (clarified butter) if you have it)
2 small red onions (alternatively you could use shallots)
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp crushed chili flakes
Juice of a lime (optional)
Splash of single cream/natural yoghurt/coconut milk (optional)
Fresh coriander

The recipe:

  1. Wash the lentils/split peas thoroughly until the water runs clear. Put lentils/split peas in a large saucepan and cover with the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and skim off any scum that rises to the surface (you can do this delicately with a ladle).
  2. Peal and crush the garlic, grate the ginger and finely chop the chili and add to the lentils along with the turmeric and a large pinch of salt
  3. Simmer for 40 minutes (or longer if the lentils/split peas require.  Check the packet instructions).  Add extra water/stock if you see the lentils are drying out
  4. Whilst the lentils/split peas are simmering, finely slice the onions
  5. Heat the butter/ghee in a frying pan and add the onions.  Sauté until golden and starting to crisp
  6. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and chili flakes – BEWARE the mustard seeds pop and will jump out of the pan so have a lid to the frying pan to hand to keep the seeds in the pan!
  7. Add the onions and spices to the dahl.
  8. Add a squeeze of lime juice and stir
  9. Add some chopped fresh coriander and a little splash of cream/natural yoghurt/coconut milk (to taste – this will also help tame the spice if you find this too hot) and serve with basmati rice (or gluten free naan bread)
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