Thursday, 26 January 2012


Dhal is a thick stew made of lentils or split peas.  We have a dhal we like to make from yellow split peas.  We make it so often that "Tom" knows the spices and amounts off by heart!  (It's quite delicious and I've included the recipe at the bottom of this post, almost as an afterthought)!
Yesterday I thought I'd try a different dhal.  I made Spinach Dhal and the recipe is included here.

Spinach Dhal
(adapted from The Healthy Low-Fat Indian Cookbook)

1 cup yellow split peas
1 cup water
1/2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1" piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 red chili, finely chopped *
275g fresh spinach **
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt

Wash the split peas then leave in a bowl covered with plenty of water to soak for 30 minutes.  Drain the split peas and put in large pot with 1 cup of water.  Bring to boil and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat the oil over med-high heat in a large frying pan, then fry the mustard seeds until they begin to pop.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook the onion, garlic, ginger and chili for about 5 minutes.  Add the spinach and cook for 5 minutes until the spinach is wilted.  Stir in the remaining spices and salt and cook for about 2 or 3 minutes.  Drain the split peas (if necessary - the water should all be absorbed) and add to the spinach and heat through.  Serve at once.
* please, please, please make sure you use gloves when handling chili peppers.  Yesterday, I cockily didn't bother with gloves and the tips of my fingers are burning still today!
** I use the washed baby spinach available in large transparent plastic containers.

Spiced Dhal
(from The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas)

1 ½ cups yellow split peas
4 cups water
3 tbsp butter or ghee *
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
½ inch stick cinnamon
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp mustard seeds
6 whole cloves

Wash the split peas and boil in the water until very soft and most of the water has been absorbed.  Stir often.
Heat the butter or ghee in a saucepan and add the spices to it.  Stir them around for a few minutes then remove from the heat.  Pour the spices and butter into the split peas and simmer stirring often until the dal has the consistency of a fairly thick sauce.  Depending on your split peas and on your preference, you might need to give the dhal a whirl with an immersion blender
*There is no need to use this large amount of butter.  Just a tbsp should do the trick.  Yes, I know it's not vegan, but the butter adds a flavour that is integral to this dish.