Dal is everything we’re craving right now (and always) - it’s savoury, rich yet fresh, hearty, and nourishing. Whether you strip it back and serve it plain or have it with tarka (warm tempered spices) stirred through for extra flavour and texture, you’ll be warmed up from the inside out.
1 tbsp neutral oil (such as vegetable or refined coconut)
160g white onion (one small), diced
30g ginger (5cm piece), finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
210g chana dal or red lentils
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp neutral oil
1 tbsp mustard seeds
5 curry leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
200g cooked basmati rice
100g vegan plain yoghurt
20g fresh coriander
Pickled onions, optional
Start by making the dal. Heat oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat. Add the white onion and ginger, and sauté for 6-8 minutes, until starting to soften. Add the garlic, and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Add the turmeric, cumin and pinch of salt and stir to combine. Add 2 tbsp water to loosen the spices up and to avoid them sticking to the pot. Cook the spices in the onion for 3-4 minutes, until fragrant.
Stir in the coconut milk and remaining salt. Stir in the chana dal or lentils, along with 600ml water. Bring to a simmer, and let cook for 20-25 minutes (stirring occasionally), until the lentils have completely broken down and the dal is thick and creamy. Fold in the lemon juice.
When the dal has almost finished cooking, prepare the tarka. In a small saucepan, heat the 2 tbsp of oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, cumin seeds and fennel seeds, and toast for 2-3 minutes, until the mustard seeds start to pop.
Fold ¾ of the prepared tarka into the cooked dal and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Serve the dal topped with a drizzle of reserved tarka, along with cooked rice, a dollop of yoghurt and fresh coriander.
by Valentina Concordia
Valentina is our Food Creative, who dreams up our tasty dishes and recipes for our social channels. She has loads of experience cooking up a storm in Italian kitchens, so it’s no surprise she can’t live without good-quality olive oil (don’t come between her and her olive oil) and fresh pasta.