Sooo….. if you ask my Frenchie what is his favourite thing that I do for him, then excuse his all too dirty approach to the subject, remove the talk about making coffee in bed, speaking ‘cute’ (a.k.a. damn awful) french, and then focus it on food: THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS DHAL. Never heard of it? Think it’s too complicated? Guess again! Get those onions baby, we’re going to make magic!
It’s the food of the gods, in our household anyway
For the débutant to the matter Dhal is the food of the gods, in our household anyway. Cheap, easy, full of flavour and versatile (also the description on my old hookup app- but that’s another story).
All you need to do is cook down some lentils, add some onions and garlic fried together with spices and Bob’s your uncle. Now that’s where it can get really interesting…. Chuck in whatever you fancy as there are no rules; rather there is only one: that which you can handle. Here are some ideas to help:
- Fennel: this adds a beautifully subtle and light aniseed flavour. With a mortar and pestle you should grind the seeds into a fine powder before adding them into the onions – otherwise you shall constantly chew little bits or have them stuck in your teeth, not great if you have dentures. This is by far our favourite and now ESSENTIAL addition to most food.
- Fenugreek: you’ll only need a small amount as this packs a punch. However, once its aroma hits you while cooking it’ll become an instant favourite.
- Bay leaves: add them to the lentils while they’re boiling to add an authentic and subtle taste.
- Tomatoes: do not shoot me down for this, it’s a great combination! Chop up some fresh tomatoes to fry with the onions to add a charismatic richness and some extra nutrition!
- Experiment: you all have various spices and vegetables and personal preferences…… try, try, try!!
The health benefits are also recognisable. The only fat really is that which you add, it’s a perfect balance of carbohydrates, protein and fibre, plus you can serve it with a side of salad or vegetables to really make it a mean meal!
- 200-300g red lentils (really depends on how hungry you are, or if you want leftovers)
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- Roughly half a bulb of garlic, finely diced
- 3 heaped tsp Garam masala
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- Salt, to taste
- Your optional additions (a.k.a. FENNEL)
- Wash the lentils!! This is so important to prevent a layer of think ‘scum’ rising to the top while boiling. Massage them, rinse them again, sing to them! Just repeat until the water is clear.
- Place the lentils on a medium heat to simmer away peacefully. Only add about 2-3cm of extra water above the layer of lentils when you do so. Cover and do not stir! See step 5. For when they’re ready
- While the lentils are simmering fry the onions and garlic on a low heat until soft and golden.
- Add some extra oil into the pan along with all the spices. Cook gently for a few minutes, revelling in the orgasmic aroma you’ve just created. Take off of the heat in order to add to the lentils.
- The lentils will turn a pale colour when most of the water evaporated. This is a good point to stir and agitate them like crazy- they should start to break down and form a paste. If they’re not cooked enough then add more water; if they’re breaking apart nicely then boil off the water. Make it as thick or as thin as you like. We like ours rather thick!
- Add the spiced onions and garlic to the mixture and stir on a low heat to blend the flavours together. Add salt to taste and maybe some extra spices if you need it- sometimes I feel it needs a lot more garam masala, or I want it spicy so I add some chilli powder.
- Serve hot or cold, and enjoy!
If you have any questions feel free to drop a comment here or on social media! Let us know your experiences!