Indian Spiced Dhal
Today's recipe is possibly one of India's most popular foods, dhal.
Dhals are very popular in India for a number of reasons, including the fact that there are so many different varieties, they are easy to make, cheap to buy, taste great and they also offer a high level of nutrition and protein! You could say a hot bowl of dhal with your favourites sides makes for some great Indian-style comfort food.
In our Parsi culture, we have two very popular dhal - Mori Dhal a simply yet delicious dhal traditionally eaten with lightly spiced and fried fish and rice and the other one is delicious Dhansak which is traditionally made by cooking mutton or goat meat with a mixture of lentils and vegetables which is served alongside a sweet-spiced rice and onion salad known as Katchumber.
Today's dhal is essentially a Mori Dhal that has more spices and flavors added to it. It can be served with rice, naan, chapatti, salad and/or raita, or be a part of a "thali" style meal. You could try this dhal with my Butter Naan Recipe which is delicious, very easy and yeast free.
Not only is dhal super healthy for you but the spices and herbs used in this also pack a flavor and nutrient punch so you can eat this knowing you are doing your body some good. If you are one of those people who finds it hard to digest lentils, then let me share this secret with you - ensure that you add a pinch of hing/asafoetida (from the fennel family) into your dhal before you cook it so you don't feel bloated afterwards! It's easily available from most Indian grocery stores.
This recipe uses a pressure cooker and if you don't have one GET ONE, it will change your life! A pressure cooker saves time, money and allows your meats, lentils and other tough foods to be cooked to perfection without you having to slave away for hours at a time and you save money because you don't need to cook as a long either!
YOU WILL NEED
250g | 9 ounces split pea yellow lentils, rinsed under cold water until clear
2 + 1/2 cups cold water
1 pinch of hing/asafoetida
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 vegetarian/chicken stock cube (Massels stock cubes are all vegetarian)
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 tablespoons of ghee (butter or oil is fine too)
2-3 green chillies cut lengthwise
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 + 1/2 teaspoons chilli powder
1 + 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon fenugreek powder
2 dried red chillies
2 garlic cloves grated or finely sliced
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vinegar
Vegetable stock (you can buy this ready made or just make up some extra with a stock cube and little hot water according to packet instructions)
2 tablespoons lightly toasted desiccated coconut (optional)
1 tomato chopped (optional) but I think it adds freshness
Fresh curry leaves (optional)
In a medium stainless steel vessel that will fit in your pressure cooker, add the washed split peas, water, hing, turmeric, stock cube and onion. Place in your pressure cooker and cook until soft and tender - this will depend on your pressure cooker settings. I usually cook mine for about 35-40 minutes to ensure they are really soft (which is the way we traditionally eat them) . If using an old style pressure cooker, ensure that you place some water and a metal trivet in the bottom of your pressure cooker before adding the vessel with the dhal to avoid burning your lentils.
Allow the pressure cooker to depressurize before opening and then pour the cooked dhal into a large saucepan. Using a hand stick blender, puree until smooth, or until desired consistency and keep covered to keep it warm.
In a small non-stick frying pan, add the ghee, allow to warm up and stirring quickly add the green chillies, bay leaves, coriander, cumin, chilli, turmeric and fenugreek powders, red chillies, garlic, ginger and salt. Allow to cook through and aromatic. This will take several minutes. Continue to keep the spices moving to cook thoroughly and avoid burning.
Once cooked remove the bay leaves and add the mixture into your dhal and stir through until well combined.
Add the salt and vinegar and taste. If you want a little more seasoning add a little extra salt.
If your dhal has cooled, turn the stove on medium heat and allow to warm through and if you feel the consistency is too thick, add a little vegetable stock until you get the desired consistency.
Garnish with the coconut, tomato and curry leaves if using and serve immediately.
MAKES 4 GENEROUS SERVES