When I created this dish I was in need of colour, spice, something to pierce through the bleak blanket of winter. It was obvious: punchy heat in fire-engine red in the form of a spicy tomato dal.
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large brown onion, peeled and chopped finely
1 Tbsp crushed coriander seeds
1 Tbsp toasted and ground cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
1½ cups red lentils, washed just before cooking
2x 400g (14 oz) chopped tomatoes
2½ cups boiling water
Plain unsweetened yoghurt
1 cup chopped coriander (cilantro)
Although yesterday was stunning, Auckland this winter has been wet and stormy, full of grey shadows, leaves twisting in the wind and just a few peeps of the sun. When I created this dish I was in need of colour, spice, something to pierce through the bleak blanket of winter. It was obvious: punchy heat in fire-engine red in the form of a spicy tomato dal. Or dahl, or dhal. Whichever way you spell it, it’s what you need to cheer you up.
Lentils, when served with rice, form a complete protein as all the amino acids are present. All you need is yoghurt and masses of fresh coriander strewn atop the dahl and you’ve got dinner.
I’d intended serving the dish with a humongous bowl of basmati rice but upon opening the pantry of earthly delights, I found a relatively sparse ‘grains’ supply – sushi rice it was! I threw the rice into the rice cooker with water as one usually does and hoped for the best… and to be fair, it worked out absolutely fine. Some might call this a side attempt at ‘fusion’ cuisine, hah. I just think it’s colourful.
1 Heat oil in a medium-sized saucepan over gentle heat and add onion. Cook gently until tender. If onion begins burning but it’s not yet tender, add some warm water to stop it catching.
2 Add the coriander (cilantro), cumin and chilli. Stir until fragrant then add the tomatoes and lentils. Turn heat to low, partially cover with a lid and simmer away until lentils are cooked and tender, about 30 minutes but could be more, or could be less. Stir often towards the end of cooking because it can start to catch on the bottom of the pan.
3 Season with salt – you’ll need plenty to bring out the flavour. Serve with yoghurt and HEAPS of fresh coriander.
Put lentils in a sieve and rinse well under running water. Do this just before cooking them or they’ll stick together.