I absolutely love Indian food. I think it's the gutsy combination of flavours and the pungent aromas that do it for me.
Trying new things has always been a big part of my love of food and while I always experiment with tasting different Indian dishes there's one I always add to the table or plate, without fail: dal.
It's such a simple base dish, and yet those flavours have definitely captured me for life. It's an addiction. Completely and absolutely.
The perfect way to warm souls, fill bellies and satisfy palates is always going to be with a little dal. A balance between a soup and a curry, it's definitely covering a lot of bases in terms of keeping the crowds happy. When making your own not only is it a crowd and palate pleaser, but it's so easy and exceptionally light on the wallet. You can make a huge batch and eat it all or freeze it for later. Dietary requirements driving you mad? Don't worry, dal's got you covered; gluten free, dairy free, but free and vegetarian (can even be vegan)! What more could you want?
This recipe is super easy and is guaranteed to warm lots of bellies and hearts around your table. It makes a really large quantity, perfect for eating some and freezing the rest for later cravings!
Makes a heap!
Pure ghee (coconut oil for a vegan substitute)
2 tablespoons, black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon, nigella seeds
5-7 bruised cardamom pods (optional - try to pick them out before serving as they can be a bit of a shock to bite!)
1 heaped teaspoon, cumin seeds
1 handful (2 sprigs), fresh curry leaves
2 red chillies, finely sliced
6-8 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon turmeric
500g red split lentils
2L boiling water (make excess in case)
2-3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
Steamed basmati rice
Yoghurt or coconut cream
1. The temper - add 2 tablespoons of ghee and a swig of vegetable oil into a large wide pot on a medium heat.
When the oil is heated (but not too hot/smoking) add the mustard seeds, nigella seeds, 5-7 bruised cardamom pods, cumin seeds and curry leaves stirring for 1 minute, then add the sliced garlic and chillies.
Stir so everything is evenly spread across the pot based, moving regularly until just beginning to crisp and turning lightly golden.
With a slotted spoon, remove half the temper to a plate or bowl, and remove the pot off the heat until you're ready for the next step.
2. The dal - Return pot to the medium heat. Add chopped onion and turmeric, stirring the combine and cooking until the onion begins to appear transparent.
Add the 500g of red split lentils and stir to combine, cooking for approximately a minute.
Add 1.5 litres of boiling water, stir to combine and bring the mixture to the boil.
Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20-40 minutes stirring occasionally and adding more water when necessary.
3. Dal is ready when the lentils are cooked through and broken down.
Remove from heat when cooked, add salt (to taste as it will require seasoning) and stir through the chopped tomatoes.
4. Serve plain or with steamed basmati rice and papadums. Top with the reserved temper, fresh coriander and yoghurt or coconut cream if desired. Eat quick! Yum!
Despite being a fan of dryer whites, this particular recipe lends itself to a white with a lick sweetness to finish and is perfect for an Indian food palate. Spicy food always works well with white wine like this, so keep a bottle or two of the following suggestions on hand and ready to throw in the fridge!
If you'd prefer to try something a little different, consider a Viognier. In sticking with the 'budget' friendly focus of the Dal recipe, the delicious Yalumba Y Series from Dan Murphy's is a delicious drop.
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