‘Dahl. Daal. Dal. Spicy stuff made using lentils. The charming lady at the Indian High Commission assured us it’s ‘dal’. Our local curry house (The Kathmandu) reckon it’s ‘daal’. Our Aslam is adamant you spell it ‘dahl’. Who’s right? We have no idea.’
Ingredients | Serves 6, 1 portion of your 5-a-day
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
a small thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 cardamom pods, seeds only
a pinch of turmeric
1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk
500g dried red lentils
1 bay leaf
2 big handfuls of fresh spinach
a small bunch of coriander, stalks removed, leaves roughly chopped
Heat a drizzle of oil in a large saucepan over a low heat and cook the onion, ginger, chilli and garlic for about 10 minutes, until soft.
Meanwhile, grind all the whole spices in a pestle and mortar. Add them to the pan with the turmeric and cook for another couple of minutes.
Next, add the coconut milk, lentils, bay leaf and 1 litre of cold water. Cook for 15 minutes, until the lentils are tender, then stir in the spinach. If the dhal is a little watery, turn up the heat to reduce the sauce down.
Scatter with fresh coriander, and serve with brown rice, a spoonful of yoghurt and a dollop of mango chutney. Or try making the minty yoghurt (page 170) for an extra cooling accompaniment.
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