A wonderfully comforting dal from Naomi Devlin’s Food for a Happy Gut.
“Dal is a delicately spiced sauce made from split peas or lentils that can be either porridgey or thin as a soup, according to your whim. Split mung beans (moong dal) make the most easily digested dal, so if you’re adding pulses to your diet, this is a great intro dish.”
FOR THE SOOTHING DAL
- 200g (7oz) moong dal (or other split peas or split lentils)
- 2 tablespoons ghee (or duck or chicken fat)
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 25g (1oz) fresh turmeric root, peeled and finely grated (or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric)
- 2–3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh root ginger
- 1–2 teaspoons chilli powder
- 1 tablespoon tomato purée
- 750ml (24fl oz) boiling water
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Small bunch of coriander leaves
FOR THE COCONUT RICE
- 350g (12oz) brown basmati rice
- 400ml (14fl oz) boiling water
- 400ml (14fl oz) tin coconut milk
- 10 green cardamom pods, cracked open
- Pinch of sea salt
FOR THE ROAST RADISHES
- 600g (1lb 5oz) small pink radishes, trimmed (leave a little tuft of green leaves on, if they have them – the weight given is without leaves)
- Olive oil, for drizzling
- 4–5 bay leaves
- 20g (·1/2oz) nigella seeds
- Few pinches of sea salt
FOR THE PLUM CHUTNEY
- 400g (14oz) greengages or sweet
- plums, stoned and quartered
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh root ginger
- For the soothing dal, rinse the moong dal and soak for about 2 hours in plenty of cold water, then drain and rinse well. Soak the basmati rice for the coconut rice at the same time in a separate bowl.
- Melt 1 tablespoon of the ghee in a pan, then sauté the onion gently for about 5 minutes, while you prepare the aromatics. Grind the coriander seeds using a pestle and mortar, then add to the onion with the turmeric, garlic, ginger and a teaspoon of the chilli powder. Cook gently for about 25 minutes, until the onion is sweet and soft. Stir in the tomato purée and cook a few minutes more, then add the drained moong dal and the boiling water. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for about an hour, until the moong dal has the consistency of a thick soup. Add the salt and more chilli powder if you like and then use a balloon whisk to beat the dal to a velvety smoothness.
- About 40 minutes before the dal is ready, finish the coconut rice. Drain the rice and rinse well, then put into a lidded pan with the boiling water, coconut milk, cardamom pods and salt. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook undisturbed until the liquid is all absorbed, about 30 minutes (check by parting the grains to see the bottom of the pan).
- Turn off the heat, but leave covered for 10 minutes, then fluff up with a fork (pick out the cardamom pods before serving).
- Meanwhile, put the radishes on to roast while the rice cooks. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Put the radishes on a baking tray, drizzle generously with olive oil and then shake the tray so the radishes are evenly coated. Tuck the bay leaves underneath and scatter with the nigella seeds and salt. Roast for about 30 minutes, until they are just soft to a toothpick.
- Discard the bay leaves before serving.
- In the meantime, to make the plum chutney, put the greengages or plums into a small pan with the vinegar, ginger and 125ml (4fl oz) of water. Cover and cook until the fruit collapses, about 10 minutes.
- To finish the dal, heat the remaining ghee in a frying pan and gently fry the mustard and cumin seeds until they start to pop, about 2–3 minutes, then stir them into the dal with the lemon juice. Stir in the coriander leaves, or scatter them over the dish.
- Put everything into pretty bowls and let people help themselves. Some thick live natural yoghurt and steamed greens are a good accompaniment.
This recipe by Naomi Devlin was originally published in Food for a Happy Gut. Reproduced here by kind permission of Headline.