Wednesday, April 11, 2012

tasty (belated) tuesday: easy, delicious dhal

So I found this dhal recipe while trawling for new vegetarian dishes and it is a WINNER. I mean, my god, this dhal is amazing, if I don't say so myself. Here's a few things- I'd never cooked dhal before this and I only managed to stuff it up by using canned lentils.
For Christ's sake.
After that unfortunate mistake, it's been easy. FLAVOUR-PACKED, not too liquidy, a nice smooth dhal texture with hidden veggies and deliciousness. YUM.

Nic's verdict: Flavours are well infused on the second sitting (when eaten as leftovers), thoroughly enjoyed with some good bread.

As with all my recipes, and all recipes, you need to adjust the spices, vegetable content, etc etc to your taste. This is how I've made it- a few times now, and I LOVE it, but I change, taste-test, smell, change, add, subtract... the original recipe only had 2 veggies, this one has 4. Add what you like, not what I like.

On to the yumminess!!!

This is a good dish to have with rice (we use brown) so start that cooking nowish.

First, chop your onions. Do a better job than I did in this picture.
Rinse your dry, red lentils in a fine sieve and leave aside for a while.

In a pan... pot? Heat up your olive oil, then add the onions, garlic, ginger and bay leaf, and cook until the onions are soft. 
Um. Start chopping your capsicum, eggplant, pumpkin and sweet potato at this point.
I forgot, then had to do it in a rush.

 Add the lentils, turmeric and chilli powder to the mix, stir for about 2 minutes - stuff will stick to the pan, don't freak out. Add the stock, then the veggies.

If you haven't finished chopping the veggies yet, it's ok. Do it now. I won't judge you- I put in the lentils and went: sweet... and now to wait. Oh, crud! It doesn't matter all that much, promise. Capsicums cut into strips, like so!

I never got taught how to cut eggplant so I kind of just make it up. Slices, then cubes. Seems to work.

Pumpkin, and sweet potato.

When you put the veggies in the pot, you will question whether you've gone overboard. It's ok. Everything shrinks, and your food will fit, eventually. 

Add the coconut milk (see, everything is fitting better already), give it a good stir, and cover to cook on low heat for about 45 mins or so.

This dhal is not quite finished. When the lentils are no longer recognisable, and the pumpkin has disintegrated to become one with the dhal, THEN it's finished. At this point, add any garam masala, coriander powder, salt or pepper, as you see fit. When it's JUST ABOUT done, rip up some baby spinach and put it in.

Yep, it's the photo from the top. So it looked pretty, I garnished mine with basil because it was the only herb I had access to.
Do not garnish your dhal with basil. If you need to garnish it, use coriander (yuck). Serve with roti fresh off the pan, and rice, either regular or spicy. 

The Recipe, in Easier to Follow Format:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • 1/2 - 1 onion, diced.
  • 2 cloves garlic/2 tsp pre-crushed garlic.
  • 1 teaspoon ginger.
  • 1 bay leaf.
  • 1 tsp turmeric.
  • 2 tsp curry powder.
  • 1ish tsp garam masala.
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder.
  • 1 cup dry, red lentils, rinsed.
  • 3 cups of vegetable stock.
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk.
  • 1/2 red capsicum
  • 1/4 butternut pumpkin half (so, 1/8 a pumpkin?)
  • 1/3 sweet potato (or... y'know, however much you like)
  • 1/2 eggplant. 
  • 2-3 handfulls of baby spinach.
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Cornflower (if too liquidy by the end).


  1. Dice the onion. Heat oil in a pot, then fry the onion, ginger and bay leaf in the oil until onions are soft.
  2. Add the lentils, curry powder and turmeric, and fry for about two minutes, stirring the mix. 
  3. Pour in the stock. Chop the vegetables, and add them, followed by the coconut milk.
  4. Cook for 30-45 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally. Perform taste-tests, and add garam masala and coriander powder according to preference. 
  5. Add chopped spinach at the end, and stir through until wilted before serving. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
  6. Serve with rice and/or roti. (Garnish with coriander if desired)

In regard to spices- we've recently accumulated a bit of a collection of Indian spices, namely: turmeric, curry powder (though we got the "Keen" brand and have been using it), garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder and bay leaves - we picked these all up from the local Indian grocery store for super cheap.

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