When you make and eat food like this, you realise why the western world is getting fatter and hungrier. Dhals are ugly, they’re really easy and cheap to make and they are nutritious and filling. Not much room for profit here is there? When you consider the holy trinity of sugar, fat and salt that keeps people craving more food, you realise that selling food is only profitable when your market is kept hungry. This is one of a thousand and one recipes that are possible with lentils and other split pulses (Dhal means ‘to split’ in Sanskrit), and this is a way that you can change your lunchtimes and possibly your waistline forever.
I got the recipe from a fantastic blog that I visit regularly called Pinch of Yum. Authored by Lindsay Ostrum, Pinch of Yum is celebration of good food, that is usually good for you and always delicious. This recipe was originally inspired by Kitchen Lab, which I encourage you to visit, to see how we’ve all made our tweaks, paid it forward and hopefully inspired more people. I was doubtful of this recipe when I read it because it goes against everything I’ve learned in the kitchen which is to saute, saute, saute for flavour. This recipe is wonderful because all you have to do is throw everything into the pot and simmer it for about half an hour and the flavours are unexpectedly powerful.
Henry Dimbleby wrote in a recent article for The Guardian that “A good dhal recipe is like a good knife – every good cook carries one and each prizes their own for different reasons.” He mentions the “pungent fried spices, (sometimes with onion, garlic and ginger) added near the end of cooking to give a strong punch of flavour” and I cringe a little when I admit that this final, defining step is one I have removed from Lindsay’s recipe because I found the ginger too overpowering. So in my recipe, I only leave the coconut milk and spinach till last, and I am well satisfied with the taste, thanks to the green curry paste that packs a massive flavour punch.
This is the perfect introduction to dhal. It’s cheap and easy to make, and a delight to eat. I have made the addition of leeks, because I bloody love them, and removed the butter and bulgur wheat to keep the calories and carbs in check. I also have a bad habit of upping the ante when it comes to tumeric – it’s a super food and a powerful anti- inflammatory and should be added with gusto. You can add whatever you like to make it your own. If you lead a very busy life – all of these ingredients, well most, can be kept in the larder, and frozen spinach is a perfectly suitable replacement for fresh. This batch can be kept in the fridge for re-heating during the week for a lightning fast and super nutritious lunch.
Green Lentil Dhal Recipe
1 cup uncooked green lentils, rinsed
2 cups of water
1 vegetable stock melt
¼ cup green curry paste
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbs tomato paste
1 leek, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp garam masala
½ cup coconut milk
2 cups baby spinach
Greek yogurt for topping
Throw it all into a pot, except the coconut milk and spinach and bring to the boil.
Simmer until the lentils are cooked and the liquid has been absorbed.
Throw in the spinach and coconut milk, simmer till the leaves have wilted.
If you want to experiment with flavours, try leaving the garam masala and ginger out until the end.