Red Lentil Dal
This super tasty, easy, quick and nourishing dish is a great antidote to the cold dark months ahead. Ingredients at hand, this can be prepared, cooked and served within an hour. We are gently introducing more pungent spices into Little Boy Green’s meals. He very much enjoyed the Chana Dal so we are crossing our fingers that this also gets his little thumbs up.
Baby Green is also into food, very much so, he is a messy and eager eater, and he is not afraid to let us know. He will be seven months old in ten days and already he has quite the palette, and an appetite to match. Mrs Green has been making sure that his diet is varied, nutritionally, but also as a means to introduce a range of flavours. During the next week we will begin to introduce pulses, and red lentils will be on his menu, and so we will most likely be enjoying this recipe for Red Lentil Dal while serving his version in the very near future.
Because the dish uses split red lentils, soaking is not required and we find the texture of the final dish to be thick and satisfying without the need for any blending. We pimped up the dish from a simple dal to include some treats from our weekly veg bag, a kuri squash and a bag of spinach. Since we were out of carrots and had a sweet potato to hand, that also made it into the dish. The dal was made into a filling meal with the addition of some brown rice (very filling in fact, we never got to the dessert to Mrs Green’s disappointment). We didn’t use chilli in the preparation of the dish and some may find that it could use more salt, but leaving them out makes the dish child-friendly and both can be added once the dal is cooked.
If you’ve been tuning into to wide world of health, turmeric has probably made a dramatic appearance as a miracle antidote to cancer and longevity. Not much is required to amass its apparent benefits and its potency is dramatically amplified by the addition of black pepper. We like to add black pepper just before serving as its flavour is best retained when it is not cooked.
Ingredients: (serves 6 adults)
- 2 cups split red lentils
- 7 cups of water
- 1 cup tomato passata (or crushed tomatoes from a can)
- 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp crushed red chilli (optional)
- 1 X 1” (2cm) knob of ginger
- 2 X clove garlic
- 1 X medium-sized onion
- 1 X small sweet potato (or medium size carrot)
- 2 tbsp rapeseed oil (or coconut oil)
- 1 tbsp salt
- small bunch of coriander to serve
- black pepper to serve
- 450g squash of choice, we used kuri
- 200g spinach (if using frozen, add during last 5 minutes of cooking to thaw, but not to cook through, this keeps it a vibrant green)
- Because the dish comes together so quickly, it is best to have all ingredients chopped and measured to go. Mise en place, if you will.
- Finely dice the garlic. Dice the onion.
- Run the ginger through a grater or dice finely.
- Wash (no need to peel) and dice the sweet potato.
- Wash (no need to peel) the kuri squash, cut in half lengthwise and deseed with a spoon, then chop into roughly 1” (2cm) cubes.
- Gently heat a large heavy based pot and add the oil. It may seem that there is not enough oil for the dish but just wait until it warms and coats the bottom of the pot. Add the onion to the pot with the mustard and cumin seeds (this will allow them to flavour the dish without burning). Maintain a medium heat and stir often until onion has softened.
- Add the garlic and ginger to the softened onion. Cook for a minute or two and then add the turmeric. After about 30 seconds add some water to deglaze the pot.
- Add the sweet potato, squash, lentils, passata and salt, followed by the remainder of the water. Bring to the boil with the lid off in case any foam needs to be skimmed off the top. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 min.