A great way to use up those bags of lentils, stock cubes, rice and spices in your kitchen cupboard, this is a wonderful warming recipe for cold Autumn and Winter evenings. Make enough to save leftovers for lunch the next day and the flavours will have further matured, becoming even more satisfying.
Dahl, ‘daal’ or ‘dal’ is traditionally known as a soup – like accompaniment to meals, made with pulses like split peas, beans or lentils. They’re popular in Indian and Nepalese cooking, and are a staple food in these parts of the world. Dahl is high in plant based protein, and is a complete meal when paired with rice, a warm roti or chapati, or a boiled egg.
The ingredients in dahl mean it’s anti-inflammatory, high in B vitamins and iron (important for maintaining mood and energy levels), folic acid, and zinc (vital for the function of the immune system). Consume something high in vitamin C – such as fresh orange juice or grapefruit juice – to increase iron absorption (although the vitamin C-rich tomatoes in this recipe will take care of most of that) and avoid drinking tea straight after as it prevents proper absorption of iron.
The ingredient list may look long, but it’s really just a few vegetables and pulses, enhanced with tasty spices. It’s worth investing your time in learning how to make dahl, as this is a dish that can be cooked over and over again, feeding the whole family with one pot.
- 1 large tsp coconut oil*
- 2 cups lentils (yellow, red or both)
- 1 cup chestnut mushrooms or 1 cup hydrated pre-dried shiitake mushrooms
- 3 whole tomatoes, sliced into quarters
- 1 leek, sliced into rounds (or 1 onion, diced)
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ inch chopped ginger or 1 tsp ground ginger
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 large handfuls of kale
- 1 large bunch fresh coriander
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- roughly 4 cups stock (a little more depending on your desired consistency)
- spices: ‘temper’ 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp turmeric, ½ tsp black pepper, pinch of salt
- Shredded coconut and chilli flakes to garnish
*Ghee can also be used in place of coconut oil, and is a traditional ingredient in Indian cooking. Ghee is clarified butter, and gives a deeper and fuller taste than coconut oil – it carries spices well and is thought to be especially nourishing from an Ayurvedic perspective.
If you’re using dried mushrooms, hydrate them according to instructions, but keep the water
Rinse the lentils until the water runs clear, then leave them still damp to one side
Add one tsp coconut oil to a large pan and heat until melted
Add the temper spices and cook until the mustard seeds begin to pop and they become fragrant
Add the leek / onion and garlic with the other spoon of coconut oil and cook until softened
If you hydrated your mushrooms in water, sieve the mushrooms and use the water as stock, adding a stock cube and more hot water for extra flavour
Add the lentils, stock, coriander stems, chopped tomatoes, bay leaves and mushrooms and a little more salt
Cook until the lentils are softened
Continue to add more water / stock throughout depending upon your preferred dahl consistency
Close to the end or when everything seems ‘ready’, add the tin of chopped tomatoes, a small handful of fresh coriander leaves, and the handfuls of kale
Stir in and bring to a simmer again.
Once the kale has softened, turn the heat down and after a couple of minutes you’re ready to serve!
Scoop into bowls and top with a few sprigs of coriander, shredded coconut and chilli flakes
Serve with a yoghurt, coriander and mint dip – literally yoghurt, coriander, salt and fresh mint blended (pictured), savoury turmeric biscuits (pictured – recipe coming next week!) and basmati or brown rice.