red lentil dhal | meat free monday

Weeks ago I made dhal for a meat free Monday night dinner and whilst doing a million other things, simply forgot about it, leaving it on the stove to burn. To a crisp. Talk about ruining a dish.

We ate spag bol instead.

And I’ve been wanting to make it again ever since.

I was introduced to dhal (a popular Indian dish made with lentils and spices) by a chef at a job I once had in Sydney years ago. Weyman would whip up a huge batch of dhal for our staff lunches and I used to love it. It was so different to anything Mum had cooked for us as kids growing up and I really liked the spice and texture of the lentils. It was so comforting.

I then went through a stage of making dahl all the time, each time, using whatever I had at home and whatever recipe I had googled at the time. Inexpensive, hearty and good for you – it’s the perfect meal, especially after yet another over-indulgent weekend. This particular version uses a small number of ingredients and can be made as spicy as you like by using little or extra chilli powder.

The recipe comes from one I found on delicious.com that I’ve altered slightly. I cooked the lentils for longer than the recipe states as I prefer dhal when the lentils really break down, turning a little mushy. I’ve also added vegetable stock, omitting the mustard seeds (purely because I didn’t have any in the pantry) and accompanied the dhal with some roti bread.

For a hint of sweetness, I served it with some of my new favourite garlic jam (which you could replace with mango chutney) and a dollop of natural yoghurt on top goes down well to counteract the spice.

Now I’m not pretending to be the ‘Indian cooking go-to-girl’ by any stretch of the imagination and I want to thank Weyman for sparking my curiosity and love of Indian food. Thanks for introducing me to the humble lentil too. I don’t know if I’d eaten lentils, let alone cooked with them, before having your dhal.

So if I can inspire even one person to try something they’ve never eaten or cooked before, I’ll be happy. This is such a simple dish. It’s nothing sophisticated and is a great place to start you on your pulse journey. Hopefully you don’t stuff it up. Just whatever you do, don’t forget it’s on the stove.

And if you do happen to stuff it up.. No dramas.

Just make sure you have some spag bol for back up.

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red lentil dhal (serves 2)

300 grams of red lentils
1 x small brown onion, finely sliced
2 x garlic cloves, crushed
1 x piece of fresh ginger, about the size of a 20 cent coin
1 x dessertspoon of cumin seeds
1 x teaspoon of ground tumeric
1/2 teaspoon of ground chilli
1 x teaspoon of sugar
1 x 400 gram tin of chopped tomatoes
About 2 x cups of vegetable stock (I use stock powder diluted in boiling water)
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
A dash of vegetable oil
A really good handful of baby spinach leaves
Fresh coriander, to serve
Naan or Roti bread, to serve
Garlic jam, (or mango chutney) to serve
Natural yoghurt, to serve

  • Place the lentils in a sieve and rinse under cold water from the tap.
  • In a saucepan, cover the lentils with water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, back down to a simmer and let the lentils cook for 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a fry pan, dry fry the the cumin, chilli and turmeric until the aroma of the spices start to fill the air. (This should take about a minute, stirring with a wooden spoon and being careful not to burn).
  • Add a dash of vegetable oil and add the onions, garlic and ginger, cooking until softened.
  • Add the tinned tomatoes, sugar and lentils and season with salt and pepper.
  • Add 1 cup of the vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
  • Back it off to a slow simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are nicely cooked and no longer have that ‘real bite’ to them. (Adding more stock if you need to so that the lentils don’t become dry). It’s important to taste as you go.
  • Add the baby spinach right at the end and stir through.
  • Serve with the roti bread, garlic jam, fresh coriander and natural yoghurt.

Lo’s tips

  • You could also serve this dhal with some steamed rice.
  • You could roast some pumpkin or sweet potato to mix in to the dhal towards the end of the cooking process too.
  • A can of chickpeas could also be added.
  • Serve with some chilli flakes for the spice lovers out there.

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If you make this lentil dhal, leave your comments below. xx

 

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