Blade's Kickarse Dhal
adapted from a recipe in Charmaine Solomon's Complete Vegetarian Cookbook
This recipe uses red lentils which don't need soaking like some other varieties - so excellent for those of us who aren't organised enough to think about dinner the night before.
1 cup (6 oz) dried red lentils
1 1/2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or oil - I usually use canola oil
1 large onion, finely sliced - this usually ends up either being sliced or chopped depending on whether I remember the recipe doesn't say dice
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic - or to taste, I probably use about twice this amount ... coz I like garlic
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger - or chopped because I like my fingers un-grated, plus see above comment about garlic
1/2 teaspoon turmeric - again, I use at least twice this amount ... a few good shakes with the widest 'mouth' shaker so everything starts getting a lovely dark yellow colour
3 cups (24 fl oz) hot water
salt, to taste
garam masala, to taste - recipe says 1/2 teaspoon but I probably put at least 2 teaspoons or more in because, after having had dhal at a Northern Indian style food establishment, I am of the opinion that dhal should be a much darker brown than the 1/2 teaspoon produces
Blade's additional ingredients:
enough of a hard vegetable for the number of people you're serving, chopped into approx 2 - 3 cm cubes - potato and sweet potato/kumera have proved excellent, haven't tried pumpkin yet
broccoli sufficient for the number of people you're serving, cut into smallish florets
any other veggies you feel like!
n.b. your choice of saucepan will need to consider the volume of water as well as the lentils and other ingredients - better to go too big than too small!
Wash lentils thorougly, removing any bits that float on the surface of the water. Drain well. Heat ghee or oil in a saucepan and fry onion, garlic and ginger until onion is golden. Add turmeric and stir well. Mix in drained lentils and fry for 1 - 2 mins. Add hot water, bring to the boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
Cover and simmer for 15 - 20 mins or until lentils are half cooked (what does a half baked cooked lentil look like?? I hear you cry - 20 mins is probably the go if you've got it on a nice slow simmer). Add salt and garam masala, mix well (and carefully - it can spit at you) and continue cooking. Throw your hard vegetable about this point so it gets a chance to cook through while the lentils are still cooking. Cook until the lentils are soft and about the consistency of porridge and your hard vegetable passes the fork test. If you've ended up with too much liquid, leave the lid off to allow evaporation. Chuck the broccoli (and other veggies) in a microwave dish and nuke until the equivalent of lightly steamed. Throw the lot in and mix well.
Goes well with rice, naan, pappadums, as a side dish or as a meal on its own. I usually make double the quantity above (2 cups lentils, 6 cups water) and it makes a decent amount of leftovers. It reheats spectacularly well and like many curries and stews, can even improve the next day or after freezing.