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Dhal with Humble Pie

12/04/2013 by Kate in Quick Suppers, Recipes, Vegetarian 0

About a year ago Nic and I had our first dinner party, or rather picnic in the garden with friends. As a chef, Nic went to town and created an array of temptations from scotch quail eggs to smoked trout (as in she smoked the trout!), rib eye to die for and more. I went in to the kitchen and instead of being helpful, stirred the dhal pot and declared, ‘I don’t like this. Let’s just leave it’. So rude! Nic just thought up yours and 5 minutes later appeared with the dhal, which she had managed to save through her culinary powers and had turned out great. Followed by oohs and aahs from all my friends. ‘I just love dhal’. ‘Oh my, you’ve done dhal too, perfect’. ‘This is amazing’. I looked up at the sky and knew I had learned my lesson, except I hadn’t quite. Months later we were in Malta and Nic was cooking for her family. On serving the dhal, her sister’s boyfriend exclaimed, ‘I think dhal has to be one of my favourite things in the whole world’. The whole world!

So I decided recently that if you can’t beat them you have to join them and started making dhal myself. This week, Nic declared that my dhal was better than the Indian restaurant – my rehabilitation complete, I promise never to be rude about another person’s cooking and I now know my puy from my yellow from my split red lentils with slowly growing knowledge and so far delicious results.

Serves 4 with rice
200g red lentils, rinsed well
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp mild chilli powder
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp coconut paste
Maldon salt
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black onion seeds
Juice of a lemon
  1. Add the lentils to a large saucepan with 3 times the water and half a chicken stock cube (we love Kallo). Stir in the turmeric, garam masala and chilli powder, plus half the butter and 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Add the coconut paste (or fine to use some coconut milk), cover and cook about 20 mins until the lentils are soft.
  2. Thinly slice the onions and heat the remaining butter in a pan. Add the onions, cumin seeds, mustards seeds and black onion seeds and cook for about 10 minutes until the onions are very soft and you can really smell the spices.
  3. Add the lemon juice to the dhal, tasting as you go. Check for salt, too.
  4. Serve in bowls over rice with the onions on top (or stirred through) and a little natural yoghurt.
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