This is a very simple accompaniment for an Indian main course or a wonderful vegetarian meal on its own, served with some naan bread or chapatis. It is creamy, nutty, spicy and lemony, creating a fantastic combination of flavours. It’s important to skim off the foamy scum when you first boil the lentils, and then leave them to cook in a tightly-lidded pan on a very low heat to allow the dhal to absorb all the water. The key to this recipe is getting the lentils right in order for their full flavour to come through. Who needs to go to the restaurant when you can easily make this tasty dish at home?
- 250g split red lentils
- 1-2tbsp ghee
- 1 onion, sliced
- Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
- 1tsp turmeric powder
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large saucepan, thoroughly wash the lentils in several changes of water until the water is clear. Cover the lentils with water to about 2cm over the lentils. Bring to the boil, skim off the foamy scum, and then reduce the heat to the lowest possible. Put a tight fitting lid on the pan and cook for 30 mins.
Heat the ghee in a large frying pan. Gently cook the onions, ginger, garlic and chilli until very soft and starting to caramelise, approx. 10 mins. Add the turmeric and stir through for a few seconds.
Remove the lid from the dhal pan and stir the dhal. If it still has a lot of liquid, turn up the heat to boil it off. Keep stirring so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Add the spiced onion mixture and stir through. Then add the lemon zest and juice. Stir through and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve as an accompaniment or with plain Naan bread.
Make a big batch and freeze for up to three months.