When I published my dal makhani recipe a month or so ago a friend said she loved the sound of it but didn’t have the time to make it (it does take several hours), and do I have any other dal recipes that are quicker? Well, I love nothing more than a request, and of course! I’m just ashamed it’s taken me so long to upload to be honest (I blame the madness of Christmas and New Year).
So, my ‘go to’ South Indian dal. It isn’t strictly authentic, but it is based on several trips to South Indian and eating lots of dal laden with mustard seeds, curry leaves and coconut. This is a real store cupboard comfort food recipe for me; I always have yellow split peas in the cupboard, (it covers so many cuisines – Greek Fava, Swedish soup, Pease pudding, Indian dal…), low fat coconut milk is a key dry store staple for me and my biggest tip? Buy a big bag of curry leaves when you find them and pop them in the freezer. They freeze well and it means they’re always on hand. (You’ll find them in any Indian supermarket or sometimes online. You can use dry if you have them but they’re not as punchy and don’t fry as well).
It might not look like much but this dal is incredibly comforting and really is delicious. It is wholesome, filling and packed with iron and it freezes wonderfully, so perfect for a rainy day. Sarah, I hope you like it!
MY ‘GO TO’ SOUTH INDIAN DAL
Serves 4 – 6 (serve it as is for a filling and hearty soup or with basmati rice as a meal)
- 300g yellow split peas, soaked for 20-30 minutes before cooking
- Groundnut oil or coconut oil
- 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
- a thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 heaped teaspoon heaped ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tin of low fat coconut milk
- 20 curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
- Half a lemon
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pour a lug of groundnut or coconut oil into a large non-stick saucepan and place on a medium low heat. Add the onion, ginger, most of the garlic and saute the veg for 10 minutes until softened but not coloured. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander and cinnamon and fry for a further 2- 3 minutes.
Drain the yellow split peas, rinse and add to the pan along with the can of coconut milk. Add 600ml of water to the pan, or more, ensure that the split peas are completely covered. Gently bring to the boil and then lower to a simmer and cover the pan. Cook over a low heat for around 1 hour and 15 – 20 mins, so that the split peas have completely cooked through and have turned to mush. Check the dal every so often during cooking, and top up the water if it feels like it is getting too thick. You’ll probably need to add a splash here and then. Squeeze in the lemon juice, season to taste and leave to one side.
EDIT/ NB: Someone just asked me on Instagram if I pureed my dal, as it looks so smooth, which I didn’t. But having said that I did use yellow split peas I bought in Greece which become very creamy. If your peas haven’t completely broken down then do try pureeing them with a hand/ stick blender for a smooth finish.
Add a few tablespoons of groundnut or coconut oil to a small frying pan and place on a medium heat. After a minute or so add the mustard seeds and fry for around 30 secs – 1 minute until the seeds start to pop. Once they do add the garlic, curry leaves and chilli and fry everything for a few minutes, until the garlic and chilli are golden and the leaves look translucent.
Check your dal, as it will probably have thickened a little as it cools, so add a splash of boiling water if it feels too thick. Serve the dal in bowls, and drizzle a little of the temper over the dal- the flavoured oil and leaves, chilli and mustard seeds.
- l love this recipe with spinach added at the end of cooking. Stir in a handful of frozen spinach balls for the last 5 – 10 minutes of cooking, or a large bag of baby spinach chopped up for the last few minutes. Great for an added iron boost.
- I didn’t have any fresh green chillies to add to my temper for the picture above, so I ended up just giving it a drizzle of chilli oil before eating, which is totally acceptable too!