I feel that lentil dishes are becoming less of a vegan/vegetarian meal and moving into the “main stream” meat eaters’ repertoire, and there’s no reason why not. Dishes like the excellent sausage, chorizo and lentil casserole (found here) to the lentil lasagne prove that this unassuming pulse has a place in fantastic cooking.
Dal Bhat meaning basically lentils and rice is a massive staple in places such as India and Nepal. The dal (lentils) is like a soup in these places and is traditionally served with seasonal vegetables and boiled rice (bhat). This is my take below.
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
Thumb sized piece of ginger
1 large carrot
2 cans of green lentils
2 red chillis
1tsp chilli powder
1tsp garam masala
100-200ml chicken or vegetable stock
100g coconut milk (half a can)
Salt and pepper
First of all, you want to prepare all the ingredients before you start cooking. Finely dice the onion, carrot and cloves of garlic and set aside. Slice the chillies, you may discard the seeds if you want it less spicy. Drain the lentils and keep one of the cans.
Now to start with the cooking. Over a medium heat add a little oil to a large heavy based pan and add the onions, cook for a few minutes until they start to change colour and go soft. At this point add the finely diced carrot, ginger and garlic and give it all a good stir. Now add the cumin, chillies, chilli powder, turmeric and stir again. Cook out the spices for about 30 seconds until they become fragrant and add the 2 cans of lentils. Use the can that you saved to measure out half a can of the stock and add it to the pan. Bring to a simmer and season with salt and pepper. Leave on a low heat for 20 minutes adding a little more stock if it starts to look a little dry.
After 20 minutes add the coconut milk and stir in the garam masala. Cook for another 5 minutes and serve with long grain rice.
Top Tip: I like my dhal a little thick so I use a hand blender to blend about half of the curry so I get a combination of mushy lentils and whole lentils.