Dhal pic 1

This recipe is taken from Tara O’Brady’s Seven Spoons cookbook and is one of my go-to dishes when having people over, it is great seved by itself or as a side dish.  This recipe serves 3-4 mains.

1 cup (225g) Split Yellow Lentils (mhung dhal)
3 cups (710ml) water
1/2 tspn ground tumeric
Medium-grain salt

2 tblspn ghee or unsalted butter
1 tspn cumin seeds
1 small onion, minced
1 or 2 fresh or dried whole red chillies
Leaves picked from a small bunch of coriander
Fresh lime wedges.

To make the dhal, in a medium heavy saucepan, cover the lentils with water. Swish the lentils around with your hand, then drain the water through a fine mesh sieve. Return any lentils from the sieve to the saucepan and repeat, washing, agitating and draining, until the water runs absolutely clear. It will probably take 7 – 10 changes of water. Pour the 3 cups of water into the pot to cover the lentils. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, skim any scum that rises to the surface, the lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Add the tumeric and cook until the dhal is quite creamy, 45 to 60 minutes. Stir the dhal regularly as it simmers or it can catch at the bottom of the pan and burn. If the dhal starts to look dry before the lentils are cooked, add hot water. Season well with salt.

About 20 minutes before the dhal is done, make the tarka. Melt the ghee/butter over low heat. Fry the cumin seeds for maybe 1 minute, until sizzling and fragrant. Add the onion and chili and cook, stirring, until the onion is very soft and translucent, 15 minutes. When the dhal is ready, top the tarka over the dhal, stir to partially combine, then sprinkle the coriander on top. Serve right away with lime wedges and naan or over rice.

Ger pic 2Tomato Tarka Variation
Melt 3 tblspn ghee (or unsalted butter) over low heat, then add 1/2 tspn cumin seeds and 1/2 tspn fennel seeds. Fry for 1 minute. Add 1 minced onion and 3 minced garlic cloves and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Scrape in 1 tspn grated ginger and cook to take away some of its rawness, about 1 minute. Stir in 2 small tomatoes that have been diced, 1 or 2 green chillies split lengthwise, and 2 curry leaves (optional). Fry until the tomato starts to break up, 5 – 7 minutes more. Stir most of the mixture into the cooked dhal and let simmer for 5 minutes. Check for seasoning, then tip the remaining tarka over the dhal. Garnish with chopped coriander.