A few weeks ago I posted a photo on Instagram of a large vat of dhal that I had made for a friend going through chemo. When I asked him what he’d like me to cook he told me he was very interested in the healing properties of fresh turmeric and gentle spices, so this seemed like the perfect recipe. Enough people asked for me to share it to give me the kick up the arse that I needed to do my 2nd post-baby blog post. No rambling thoughts this time though, just a straight up recipe. And a line to say that this recipe is brilliant on many levels: it is wonderful for you, perfect for the freezer and particularly good for sharing. It is as therapeutic as cooking can be and full of good stuff (and just happens to be vegan).
TURMERIC AND COCONUT DHAL
This may not be the most authentic method for making dhal, I don’t temper the spices and stir in after etc, however it is easy, delicious and sometimes there is nothing wrong with making life a little simpler. Also, I don’t put any chilli in the dhal itself, however if you do like a little heat feel free to finely slice a couple of deseeded chillies and add to the base.
Serves 8 – 10
- 4 onions
- 4 garlic cloves
- 5cm piece of ginger
- 2 pieces of fresh turmeric or 1 teaspoon dried turmeric
- Vegetable or coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 heaped teaspoon mustard seeds
- 400g red lentils
- 1 x 400ml light coconut milk
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 large ripe tomatoes
- 300g frozen leaf spinach
- 1 lemon
Peel and finely chop the onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric (if using). Place a large saucepan on a medium heat and add a good lug of oil. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and fry for 30 seconds. Add all the chopped veg. Saute for 10 – 12 minutes, reducing the heat a little if need be, until softened.
Stir in the add the red lentils, coconut milk, cinnamon stick and a generous pinch of sea salt. Pour in 1l of boiling water. Pop onto a high heat and bring to the boil. As it is heating, finely chop the tomatoes, add to the pan also, and when everything has come to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, adding a splash of water if it thickens too much.
Once the lentils have had 20 minutes add the spinach and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes, stirring regularly. If the dhal feels a little thick add a splash more water to loosen. Finish by squeezing in the lemon juice, give it a stir and season to taste.
If freezing, leave to cool, portion up and be sure to write on the date. Perfect served with steaming hot basmati, naan bread and even topped with an egg (I love a fried egg on dhal with extra chilli).