Dal, as we know it, is a lentil based Indian Dish with a soup or stew-like consistency. The word 'dal' in Indian is used to refer to many pulses such as split-peas and lentils which can be cooked without having to pre-soak them first. The most common types of these pulses are red-split lentils, whole green lentils and puy lentils.
There are many ways to spell dal (dhal, dahl, daal) but the cooking practice will only vary ever so slightly depending on the region of Asia the dish comes from. They are usually eaten with naan breads, chapatis or rice
Usually in the most simple way of cooking, onions are sweated down, then spices, pulses and water are added and simmered away to make a dal. The variety of additional flavours and vegetables that can be added is endless.
This is one of my variations: Coconut & Sweet Potato. This is a Sri-Lankan based dal and has a very creamy taste. There's a lot of different Sri Lankan Curry Blends to try, you can find links to these at the bottom of the recipe!
Coconut & Sweet Potato Dal
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Preheat oven to 200°C/gas mark 8
2 Onion, sliced
Ginger, roughly 30g, peeled and grated
2 Sweet Potato
2 tbsp Tomato Paste
2 tbsp Sri Lankan Curry Powder
1 Can Coconut Milk (400ml)
200g Red Lentils
2 Vegetable Stock Cubes
1 bag Baby Spinach (200g)
Serve with chapati, naan or rice for a bulkier meal and garnish with chopped coriander or spring onions
Chop the sweet potato into 1-2cm bitesize chunks, drizzle with oil and place in the oven for up to 20 mins until they start to colour
On a medium heat, sweat down the onion in a drizzle of oil and make sure you add some salt and pepper
Once the onion is softened, add the ginger, tomato paste and curry powder and fry for 1 minute
Crumble in the stock cube and add the water, coconut milk and lentils
Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer
Once the sweet potato is cooked, add this to the pan and stir together
The dal is cooked when the lentils are softened and the water has reduced to a thick consistency. If at any point the dal looks dry and the lentils are still hard, you can add a splash more water.
Once finished, stir in the spinach, handful at a time to wilt it into the dal. Remember to keep tasting the dal and add salt or pepper if you like
Serve the dal on top of a chapati or with naan bread and enjoy!
and remember, anyone can cook!