Sunday, 14 June 2009

Store-cupboard Standby - Easy Dhal

Dhal - lentil curry - is cheap, nutritious and convenient. For all these reasons it is a staple in India, and Indian cuisine is among the best in the world. It's a perfect standby, since all the ingredients (except, maybe, the onions) live in the store-cupboard pretty much indefinitely. This version is not entirely authentic, but it is tasty, veggie compatible, and very easy.


Small frying pan.
Mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
Cooking Knife
Chopping board
Measuring cup
Garlic crusher
Cooker (1 ring needed)
Half-gallon cooking pot.

Ingredients - 4 generous servings

2 tablespoons oil (sunflower, olive, whatever) or ghee
4 onions, medium, chopped.
1 cup red split lentils
1 cup green whole lentils
1 cup dried soup mix, or yellow split peas
3 cloves garlic, crushed.
1 teaspoon cloves, whole
1 teaspoon green cardamoms, whole
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon cassia bark, or cinnamon.
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon crushed dried chillies (or more, to taste)
1 200g block of dried coconut, cut into small pieces
Quite a lot of water, as required.


Dry fry the cumin, coriander, fenugreek, and cassia for thirty secs in a hot pan, to release the flavours. Remove, and grind in the mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
Add the onions and oil together into the bottom of your cooking pot, and fry gently until translucent. Add the garlic, spice mix, cardamoms, turmeric and cloves, and fry gently, stirring to coat the onion.
Add the lentils and soupmix or peas, half a litre of water, and the divided coconut block. Stir well, to dissolve the coconut, and then bubble on a low heat for at least an hour. Check and stir frequently, and add more water as required to maintain the consistency you desire. Towards the end of cooking, add the crushed chillies, tasting as you go, to bring the fire up to the level you prefer.

Serve with any or all of the following: chappattis, hardboiled eggs, boiled basmati rice, lime pickle, a garnish of fresh coriander leaves.


Best wishes, 2ndRateMind.

Fellow Bristolians can get the ingredients - in the exact quantities you require - from here:

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