I’ve got to start this post with a bit about the humble lentil. First thing to note is that unlike rice and a couple of other seed varieties, it takes 15 minutes to cook lentils from scratch which can be incredibly handy if you get them right. Lentils are also full to the brim with goodness, for every 100g you’re getting 9g of protein, 8g of fibre, 20g of complex carbs and even more potassium than you’d get in a banana! What also needs mentioning however, is that unless they’re properly flavoured and seasoned, they can taste a little bland. This means that a lot of people (myself included) have a bit of bias against these little seeds. I want to change that and this Tarka Dhal is the start…
But how? The answer is Indian herbs and spices. Lots and lots of Indian herbs and spices. The vibrant colour of the turmeric alone is enough to get my stomach growling when I cook with it, but the smell of turmeric, combined with lemon, fresh coriander, fresh chilli, ginger and cumin is simply mouthwatering. Lentil’s are so very good at absorbing flavour, they almost act as a little cardboard box to store a little bit of each spice and release them just as easily. That also means that the fresh tomato, chopped garlic, spinach and onion will combine with the lentils at the end of this recipe and leave a cacophony of flavour in each mouthful.
This brings me on to the rest of the ingredients, which I haven’t paid enough heed to as of yet. Firstly I have to dispel a rumour about spinach which concerns a certain cartoon with banging biceps. The cartoon in question’s superfood of choice, spinach, was actually due to a mistake by German scientist Erich Von Wolf, who, in the 1870’s discovered that spinach contained 35 milligrams of iron per 100g (or a small paper clip), or so his transcription says. The error being that spinach contains more like 3.5 milligrams of iron per 100g, a decimal point out of place that wasn’t corrected for another 70 years! BUT spinach is packed with Niacin, which lowers cholesterol, zinc, which enables peak physical activity and prevents tiredness (as does Iron) and even a couple of grams of protein.
- 500g Split Red Lentils (£1.19)
- 2 tbsp turmeric (20p)
- 1 1/2 tbsp cumin (15p)
- 1 1/2 tbsp Ginger (15p)
- 2 medium onions (50p)
- 15g fresh coriander (30p)
- 1 tbsp dried coriander (10p)
- 2 tbsp chopped garlic (20p)
- 1 large fresh chilli (15p)
- 1 tbsp Garam Masala (15p)
- 250g cherry tomatoes (88p)
- 1/2 tbsp cinnamon (5p)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (5p)
- 2 vegetable stock cubes (18p)
- 180g spinach (£1.10).
– Thoroughly wash the lentils in running water before you cook them. 1 minute.
– You’ll need a saucepan for the lentils and a large frying pan to make the Dahl mixture.
– Boil the kettle with enough water to more than cover the lentils.
1. Pop the lentils on a medium heat with about 1 inch of boiling water above them and both vegetable stock cubes stirred in thoroughly. (14 minutes).
2. In the mean time, chop the onion, fresh chilli and coriander up finely and halve the tomatoes. 3 minutes.
3. With 10 minutes to go on the lentils, pop the chopped onion, garlic and chilli on a medium heat for 3 minutes.
4. Add the 1 1/2 tbsp cumin, 2 tbsp turmeric, 1 1/2 tbsp ginger, 1 tbsp Graham masala, chopped fresh tomatoes, 1 tbsp dry coriander, 1/2 tbsp cinnamon and the 2 tbsp lemon juice to the frying pan. Stir thoroughly. Cook for a further 2 minutes before adding the spinach (it will reduce very quickly) for 3 minutes more.
5. The lentils should have a nice thick porridge like texture now. Add the contents of the frying pan, plus the fresh coriander to the lentils along with plenty of salt (1 1/2 tbsp) and stir thoroughly to combine it all together.
There you have it, a lean, simple and easy Tarka Dahl in 15 minutes! ?