Here’s a quick recipe for dhal which you can use to make a speedy chicken dhansak as well. The richness of the lentils creates a depth of flavour in the sauce which it’s hard to get without a lot more cooking time, but the dhal on its own is also well worth knowing about. A plate of dhal with basmati rice is a wonderfully soothing quick supper.

Ingredients

For the dhal

  • 250g red split lentils
  • thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • 2 fat garlic cloves
  • 1 green or red chilli
  • 500ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tsp each ground cardamom, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, salt, black pepper
  • 1 small can chopped tomatoes (200g)
  • 1 lime
  • vegetable oil for frying

For the chicken

  • 500g chicken breast
  • 1 medium onion
  • thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • 2 fat garlic cloves
  • 1 green or red chilli
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tsp each ground fenugreek, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, salt, black pepper
  • Fresh coriander to garnish
  • vegetable oil for frying

Method

Dice the onion for the dhal and slice the onion for the dhansak.

2015-02-15 13.32.49

Finely chop the ginger and garlic, deseed and chop the chillis, measure out all the spices.

2015-02-15 13.33.08

2015-02-15 13.36.46

Gently fry the diced onion in a saucepan until it starts to go transparent. Then add the garlic, chilli and ginger.

2015-02-15 13.41.40

Add the spices, stir to combine, then add the lentils.

Pour over the stock  and stir well. Simmer for 15 minutes, adding extra water if it starts to get too thick.

2015-02-15 13.44.32

While the dhal cooks, cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

2015-02-15 13.49.21

Fry the sliced onion in a wok, and add the ginger, garlic and chilli when it starts to go transparent.

Add the spices, stir to combine.

2015-02-15 13.55.22

Then add the chicken and keep frying until it is cooked through.

2015-02-15 14.00.35

By now, 15 minutes should be up and the lentils will have largely collapsed into a delicious mush.

2015-02-15 13.58.45

Add the juice of the lime, and the chopped tomatoes to the lentils and then pour over the chicken, and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

2015-02-15 14.01.34

Serve with basmati rice, pita bread or naan bread, and sprinkled with fresh coriander.

2015-02-15 14.09.55

If you just want dhal, then ignore all the chicken-related stuff and just keep simmering the lentils in the saucepan for another five minutes after the lime juice and tomatoes go in. I like my dhal thick and porridge-y, but 500ml of stock is never enough, however I have to remember that extra liquid is going in shortly before the end of the cooking time, and restrain myself from adding too much extra water, especially towards the end, or the lentils end up too soup-y for my liking.

My Life in Tech - or The Unexpected Virtue of Apple-ness
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home