Saturday, January 8, 2011

Keep Warm and Carry On

As I started to write this post a couple of weeks ago, it was snowing heavily again. It's been hard to be warm in our Victorian terraced house, so we've taken to putting up extra sheets as curtains, stuffing old tights under the gaps in the doors, and I even clingfilmed our bathroom window in the hope of retaining some warmth. Look what I good job I did:


With the ever-increasing need to hunker down and keep warm, we've been making lots of comfort food.


chicken noodle soup,

 huevos rancheros,

and polpette con ragù

...are just some of the things we've felt compelled to make - our calorie count increasing proportionally in relation to the temperature outside decreasing.

One of my friends over at I Think in Pictures has been asking me for a dhal recipe for a little while now.  I made it again this week and finally wrote down the ingredients. So, here you go, Neenen - this is a super easy recipe that has never disappointed.


half a packet of split red lentils
2 onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
half a tin of chopped tomatoes, OR
1 tablespoon concentrated tomato purée
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon garam masala
1/2 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
5-10 whole cardamom pods, if you have them
fresh coriander leaves, to serve
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, butter, or ghee, for cooking.


Fry up the onions in a small pan until translucent, then add the garlic and fry together until they are starting to caramelise (read:burn). You really do want them to have started to blacken. Add the mustard seeds to the pan and let them pop away happily. Keep everything moving around the pan so you don't get major burnage, and then add the ginger and all of the dry spices you have from the list above, followed by the tomatoes or tomato purée. Once everything has mixed together and cooked for a couple of minutes, turn off the heat and set aside for later.

In a separate saucepan, wash and rinse the lentils a couple of times, then cover with boiling water and bring to the boil, then simmer. Keep skimming the bubbles that will rise to the top of the pan, and keep topping up with water if it is being absorbed too quickly. You're going for a thick, mushy consistency to the lentils, which usually takes a good 20-30 mins of simmering time.

Once the lentils are done, drain off any remaining water (there shouldn't really be any) and add most of the fried onion mixture to the saucepan. Mix well, and serve with steaming hot basmati rice as a base, and the remaining browned onions and chopped coriander as a garnish. Watch out for those cardamom pods if you don't like them!

1 comment:

  1. Nice job on the bathroom window, you don't want her coming in (

    I make my dahl with carrots, cumin seeds and chilis (flakes or whole), but coincide with you on the blackened onions. My baby calls it 'love lentils'.

    Keep toasty!