Dal, dhal, daal or dhal, these are all Indian words for lentils or split pulses, they can and will be be cooked differently according to region and personal taste. This recipe is my favourite at the moment.
With the days here drawing in and the thought of long evenings around the fire, bowls of comforting, flavour rich food like this Dal are starting to sound like the answer to the dinner question. This is the first comfort food meal for the season and has left me enthusiastic for more. I love the way these simple ingredients with warming spices make for such easy eating – almost soup like at times, or as I have made it now – more like a risotto.
In this version I have made my Dal into a satisfying meal topped with a layer of seasonal roast vegetables and finished with mustard seeds, chilli and curry leaves sauted in coconut oil and poured – sizzling – over the top, then a final flourish of fresh coriander or mint, and finely sliced spring onion.
The basic Dal recipe I have been making stays the same, as do the the tempered spicy topping, but the roast vegetables in-between change according to what is in my refrigerator. This is great eaten as is, but if you want more – add some naan, other indian bread or poppadoms on the side, pour a little yoghurt or cashew nut cream over top and add a cooling yoghurt, cumin seed and cucumber sambal. Make double the Dal and put the rest in the freezer for another day or have it warmed for a hearty lunch the next day. Easily warmed delicious, healthy, leftovers are always welcome in my refrigerator.
DAL WITH ROAST SEASONAL VEGETABLES AND TEMPERED SPICES
Enough for four people
Preheat oven to 200’c
- 1 cup of lentils, I used Moong Dahl (soaked if you have time and rinsed well)
- 1 brown onion finely sliced
- 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds + 2 teaspoons for tempered spices
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped or grated on a microplane
- 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons garam marsala
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of chilli powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric or freshly grated
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- Optional – two tomatoes finely diced
- handful of fresh or dry curry leaves
- 1 fresh red chilli
- 1 – 2 spring onions for garnish
- few sprigs of coriander or mint leaves for garnish
- Coconut oil or olive oil for sauteing onion and for tempering spices and roasting vegetables
- 3 -4 cups of vegetables for roasting – I have used cauliflower and red peppers in one photo and broccoli, peppers and silver-beet in anotherPlace your list items here
Start by rinsing ( if you have time soaking your lentils one hour – overnight) and draining your lentils.
In a large high sided pan or a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of coconut or olive oil and saute finely chopped onion.
As the onions start to brown add the mustard seeds and once they start to crackle add the garlic and ginger stir well then add the dry spices and once again mix well and gently saute for another minute.
Add 3 cups of water and the diced tomato and simmer slowly for about one hour, adding more water if necessary to stop the Dal from sticking to the pan.
While the Dal is cooking prepare and roast your chosen vegetables.
At this point these can rest until you are ready to serve.
When you are ready to eat warm a small pan with 2 tablespoons of coconut or olive oil, add your mustard seeds and wait until they begin to pop, then add your chilli and curry leaves and allow them to sizzle briefly before pouring all over your roast vegetables and Dal.
Garnish with a handful of fresh herbs and spring onion and you are ready to eat.