When you’re after something superbly hearty and nourishing to-boot, look no further than dahl. Like a hug for your stomach, it’s a comfort food that transcends through culture; a classic within the Indian cuisine.
Dahl is spiced thick puree-like soup/curry/stew, made by simmering dried split pulses long and slow until they’ve broken down, becoming mushy and thick. A fried garnish is then added, often containing onions, garlic, ginger and various spices, as well as sometimes tomatoes.
With much wriggle room for variety, dahl can be thick or thin, and with whatever spices you’d like to add; often eaten with flatbreads, like roti’s or naan, or served with rice.
Aside from the name of the style of dish, in India the term dahl is also used to describe the ingredient dried split pulses (e.g. lentils, peas, beans). Pulses are a good source of dietary fibre, as well as plant-based protein.
They’re also cheap, easily accessible at most supermarkets or bulk stores, and cook pretty speedy. This would be a great one to bulk-cook and freeze for speedy heat-and-eat meals across the week! Yum.
Sift through red lentils and discard any stones or misshaped or discoloured lentils. Rinse in a sieve under running cold water until the water runs clear.
Put lentil into a medium-size saucepan with a fitted lid. Add stock and water, then turn heat to high and bring to boil. Skim off any white foam that comes to the surface with a spoon and discard. Turn heat down to a simmer, place lid on, and leave to cook for 20 minutes until a porridge consistency has been reached. Once finished cooking, remove from heat, with lid left on.
While that’s cooking, peel and finely dice the onion. Grate ginger and garlic using the smallest hole on your grater or using a microplane grater.
Heat the oil in a fry pan over a low-medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds, and fry for a minute or until fragrant.
Add onions, garlic and ginger, and sauté for 15 minutes, or until onions are soft and clear. Add turmeric and canned tomatoes, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once the garnish has finished cooking, carefully add into the saucepan with the cooked lentils and mix.
Add spinach and chilli flakes. Bring to boil, and then turn heat off and mix well.
Add juice of lemon and ½-1 tsp salt. Mix together, taste test and add more salt to your preferred seasoning. Enjoy!
Serving suggestions: Great with rice or roti.* Sensitive to heat? You may prefer to knock this back to ¼ tsp chili flakes, or for a totally mild dahl add no chili flakes