Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Dahl for the Soul

On the radio recently I heard someone talking about miso soup for the soul. I was thinking about the book, chicken soup for the soul and I wondered if each culinary tradition has its soul food. If so, then dahl is definitely the soul food of the Indian tradition. I find dahl both comforting and cleansing. It is full of the goodness of lentils and vegetables, and the texture is a soft satisfying slurry that slides down your throat.

Ever since seeing Lucy’s lovely dahl on Nourish Me recently, I’ve been of a mind to make it. Then I had oodles of silverbeet from my mole and decided dahl would be a good way to use it up. I loved the sound of Lucy’s moong dal with cashews, carrots, curry leaves, coconut milk, and lime (maybe not so exotic, but very different to my standard flavourings) but I wanted comfort and reverted to the sort of dahl I learned to make in my student household days.

I wrote down what I did but it is not so much a recipe as a list of what I throw in when I can’t be bothered with recipes. I chop up the vegetables I can find in the fridge (and freezer because I love frozen peas in dahl) and I take out lots of spice jars from the pantry and toss everything together in a pot – this said with a Nigella flick of the hair :-) But I think Lucy’s influence was that this dahl was a particularly soupy one. My dahls often stick to the bottom of the saucepan and I have to stir like crazy to attempt damage control on the burnt patches. This one was like soup but fine with rice. It was a bit more liquid than E likes but he was pleased that it had bite.

It felt like I hardly made a dint on the bag of silverbeet but had to find extra room in the fridge for my leftover dahl. But I welcome the leftovers. I have been enjoying one of my favourite snacks this week – promite and dahl spread on toast (that's right, it makes an excellent spread!).

Easy Dahl
(serves 4-5)

1 onion, chopped
2 cups of water
1 clove of garlic crushed
3 small potatoes, chopped
½ cup frozen peas
1½ cups dried red lentils
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1½ tbsp promite or vegemite or yeast extract
2 tsp chilli paste
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp tumeric
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cardamom
3 cups packed with silverbeet, thinly sliced
2-4 cups water

I cooked this in a large saucepan and started by placing onions and 2 cups of water in the saucepan and bringing to the boil and then simmering. I gradually added the rest of the ingredients in the order they are on the list, and simmer for another 10-15 minutes after they were all in (about 20-30 minutes cooking time altogether). Stir frequently. When the lentils are just soft it is ready to serve. Add 4 cups of water for soupy consistency or 2 cups for firmer sludge! Serve on rice or with bread.

On the stereo:
A Compact Collection: Camel


  1. Don't you love that everyone has thei own take on dahl? This is great - love the Nigella flick of the hair - and as for your midnight snack? Wonderful!!!

  2. Mmmm, nice flavours there! Must give it a try!

  3. thanks Lucy - dahl is wonderfully flexible for whatever is at hand

    thanks Holler - hope you enjoy!

  4. What a gorgeous golden slurp! Johanna, I have to catch up on many of your recent posts. (Tis the season for many a distraction.) Such great recipes to spy and try! Thanks!

  5. thanks Susan - I am sure this is not the season for catching up on posts but I hope you might find some to interest when you get time!


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