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Red Lentil Dal

Meat free Monday is a regular occurrence in our house, as we tend to eat more meat at the weekend! Maybe it’s the frustrated vegetarian inside of me from those long-suffering veggie days back in the 80’s, that just wants to try out some beautiful vegetarian recipes available at my fingertips. But it must be good, as even my husband is on board!

As well as skipping meat once a week, when the weather gets chillier, I tend to go on a spice offensive to feel warm from the inside out. Everything gets spiced up!! Even my morning smoothie goes from chocolaty, to pimped up roasted squash with cinnamon, ground ginger and nutmeg. Soups have a hum of chilli and fresh ginger and curry is a weeknight staple.

That’s why I’ve started a not so secret love affair with delicious Dal. It has so many facets to its personality and a combo of all things wonderful and attractive! Meat-free, spicy, soupy, stewy, comforting and let’s face it when you find a recipe you are happy with, it’s pretty fuss free, as it’s the ultimate 1 pot dish.

There are many recipes for Dal out there, as it can be made from boiling different pulses: lentils, peas or beans, along with onion, tomato, spices. You can add a mix of tempered spices at the end, which means that you fry off (normally) whole spices in oil/ghee to release their oils and flavours and then you stir it through the dhal once it is cooked before you serve.

It adds a different dimension to the Dal, but for me at the moment whilst I’m trying to make the kids tea, make Panforte for the school teachers and my head in a hundred different places…a fuss-free recipe that’s tasty is best and a great one to start with if you’ve not made it before.

Tonight I had this with some pittas for simplicity, but equally would be lovely with chapatis, naan bread or boiled rice. Another warm hug in a bowl!

Split red lentil Dal

300g red lentils washed and drained
1.5 tbsp cooking oil, coconut oil or ghee
1 litre of water

1 large onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger (leave the skin on)
1 tomato, chopped (or 100ml of passata)
0.5 tsp. dried red chilli flakes

1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
0.5 tsp ground cumin
0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
salt & pepper

1. In a medium pan, add the oil and then the onion, Soften on a medium heat for 5-8 minutes.

2. Add the garlic, ginger to the pan and cook for 2-2 minutes.

3. Add the curry powder, coriander, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and dried red chilli flakes . Stir for about 30 seconds.

4. Add the tomato, lentils and 800ml of the water stir until all completely mixed together.

5. Bring to the boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook, partially covered for 25 minutes until lentils are soft and the dal is thick. Add another 100ml of water if it’s getting too thick, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

6. Season generously salt and pepper.

7. Optional extra: In a frying pan, add 1-2 tablespoons of oil and get very hot. (Take care!)

8. Add a handful of curry leaves, a teaspoon of mustard seeds, caraway seeds and a sliced red chilli. Fry for a couple of minutes and then pour over the dal and stir through before serving.

For the full recipe with pictures visit:

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