I love Lentils
I have store cupboard ingredients to use up. Some time ago I overstocked on lentils when they were half price in the local Co Op and I have been experimenting with dhal recipes for some months now. Some have been better than others. When I saw that Smethwick Can Cook had made a dhal, using a recipe by Jayne of The Kitchen School I requested the recipe. And it is the best dhal I have made so far. Not the best I have ever eaten I hasten to add as Dhal at Lentil as Anything is a hard act to beat.
Allow yourself plenty of time for the lentils to cook and keep an eye on them. A watched pot may never boil, but take your eye off lentils for 5 minutes and they burn.
To make the Dhal
400 g red lentils
2 tsps turmeric
2 knobs of unsalted butter (or cooking oil if you are vegan)
2 tsps cumin seeds
1 small onion finely chopped
2 – 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 – fresh green chillies finely sliced (remove seeds to reduce the heat of the chilli) or if like me you dont like it very hot add the chilli whole and pierce it with a knife
1tsp garam masala
1tsp ground coriander
thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, finely grated
2-3 fresh tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
Fresh coriander to garnish
All of these will be available in your local supermarket. However if you are lucky enough to have a small local shop that sells such ingredients it will be almost certainly be cheaper than most supermarkets. Cumin seeds in a jar from a supermarket were £1.25 in a local indie shop a large packet was 89p.
First get all your ingredients prepared and measured out in advance before you start cooking. This was one lesson I learned when cooking with Jayne. I tend to be scatty and get things out as they are needed then realise I need a chopped onion and I thought I had one in the fridge and I don’t so have to run to the shops.
First rinse the lentils in a sieve a couple of times, then place them in a pan and cover with enough cold water to come about two inches above their surface. Bring to the boil and skim off any scum that rises to the top. Reduce to a simmer. Stir in the turmeric and a generous knob of butter. Cover and leave to cook gently.
In a small frying pan, dry-fry the cumin seeds over a gentle heat until toasted and fragrant (no more than a couple of minutes). Remove from the pan and set on one side.
Melt a second knob of butter in the same frying pan and gently fry the onions and garlic until the garlic is golden then add the chillies, tomatoes and grated ginger. Add the toasted cumin seeds, garam masala and ground coriander.
Give the lentils a good stir. they should have the consistency of porridge – thicker than soup and looser than hummus.
Add more water if required. They can get thick very quickly with just a couple of minutes of cooking. Then add the aromatic mix of spices and vegetables.
Season to taste.
Serve with basmati rice, a side of greens or some naan bread.
Garnish with fresh coriander.
More about lentils
Since I gave away most of my cookbooks I use the internet more than ever to find new recipes and cooking tips.
This BBC Good Food link about lentils is useful – I never know which lentil to use or why. You will find more information about lentils with links to other recipes.