Another one of my long running quests is the search for the perfect dhal. Perhaps a bit shamefully, my favourite to date has been from one of those all you can eat, buffet style Indian ‘restaurants’ – so creamy, spicy and delicious. But how to replicate this at home? All of my previous efforts had been too soupy – I like my dhal thick, and stew-like – ready to be scooped onto waiting papadums.
When the nights turned cold again, I wanted something spicy and comforting. Time to add another contender to the quest for the perfect dhal recipe.
I think this time I got closer than ever before, especially in terms of texture. This dhal was definitely ‘healthier’ than what you would get if eating out – a lot less oily, and more of a fresh tomato flavour. I also added some kale to get some greens into the meal, which was a great addition – the robust nature of kale can stand up to quite a lot of cooking and so worked well.
Red Lentil Dhal
(adapted from taste.com.au ‘Red lentil dhal with spinach’)
1 cup dried red lentils, washed and drained
1 cup chickpeas or kidney beans (I used canned because I had them; feel free to use dry, or omit altogether)
a decent shake of cumin
1 tbsp turmeric
1 red chilli + a few shakes chilli powder (adjust to taste)
1 tbsp sunflower, or other vegetable oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
400g canned chopped tomatoes + 4 finely chopped fresh tomatoes (again, the fresh tomatoes can be omitted; I wanted to use some up!)
1 tsp caster sugar
150g kale (or baby spinach)
rice, papadums, naan bread, chutney to serve (if desired).
1. Rinse the lentils. Once rinsed, put into a saucepan, cover with water and simmer for 5 minutes, or until soft. Drain.
2. Put the rice on to steam. In a large frypan, add oil and spices, with onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until the onions soften.
3. Add the tomatoes, sugar and drained lentils, and other beans if using. Simmer for 15 minutes, adding kale about 5 minutes from end. Stir regularly to ensure it isn’t sticking – add water if needed.
4. Once everything is tender, serve with rice and other goodies if desired.
Finally a dhal I can feel good about eating! This hit the spot, but I have a feeling the quest for the ultimate dhal will continue until I can replicate the unhealthy oily version… but for now this is a good start 🙂