Anyone who saw my review of ‘Curry Leaf’, my local curry house, will know that a good dhansak is the way to my heart. Although I’d normally go for chicken or lamb, I went more traditional with my own recipe and left the meat out of it. In a country where the national religion is Hinduism (most of whom don’t eat meat), many of their more traditional dishes really don’t need the flavour that meat brings as there are so many wonderful, fragrant spices bringing the vegetables and lentils to life. Another standard addition to a dhansak is oil, and quite a lot of it, which obviously fires up the saturated fat content and rather nullifies all of the wonderful fibre, vitamins, minerals and protein that the lentils and veggies offer. Although I have used a bit of light oil in this, just to stop the onion from sticking to begin with, that’s really all that you need.
I went for cauliflower as the predominant vegetable as not only does it work perfectly with Indian spices, but it’s also very cheap (particularly if you buy it frozen). I feel like a lot of people aren’t big fans as for me, it’s a vegetable that needs to be cooked with plenty of seasoning. In a similar way to lentils I suppose, it’s taste alone isn’t particularly distinctive, but it’s a wonderful complementary vegetable to lots of dishes (think how good cauliflower cheese is!). Not only that, but it’s packed with Vitamin C, which is invaluable for the immune system. There’s also a load of Vitamin K packed into cauliflower, which is great for your bone strength, always an added bonus!
Like a few of my recipes, I’ve added some dairy, in the form of 0% fat yoghurt, just to bring a tiny bit more thick richness to the curry. If you’re vegan though, leave out the yoghurt and you won’t sacrifice anything much in taste so don’t worry!
- 200g 0% fat yoghurt (36p) ** leave out if vegan
- 2 large onions (52p)
- 1 butternut squash (56p)
- 3 carrots (15p)
- 2 tbsp Very lazy chopped garlic (20p)
- 1 tbsp Very lazy chopped ginger (10p)
- 2 tbsp ground cumin (20p)
- 1 tbsp cardamom pods (10p)
- 15g fresh coriander (20p)
- 1 tbsp turmeric (10p)
- 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper (5p)
- 1 large fresh chilli (20p)
- 200g red split lentils (48p)
- 0.5l vegetable stock (2 stock cubes) (10p)
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes (30p)
- 400g frozen cauliflower florets (45p)
You’ll need a wok for everything to go into, as well as a kettle for the stock.
1. Dice the butternut squash, onions, carrots and finely chop the chilli and coriander. 5 minutes.
2. Pop a few sprays of light oil in the wok on a medium to high heat and throw in the onions for 2 minutes. Then add the squash, chopped garlic, chopped ginger, cayenne, cardamom, turmeric, cumin and carrots for another 8 minutes. Stirring regularly.
3. Whilst that cooks, boil the kettle with 0.8L and dissolve in 2 veggie stock cubes. Turn the heat down to medium to low.
4. Add the tinned tomatoes, lentils, coriander and stock to the wok after 8 minutes. Stir Regularly or the lentils will stick!
5. Add the frozen cauliflower florets another 5 minutes.
6. Simmer on a medium to low heat for 15 minutes. Pop the rice in the microwave, then add the yoghurt and stir in thoroughly with 2 minutes to go. (Leave the yoghurt if vegan) Take it off the heat and it’s ready to go!
Serve up with a little bit of fresh coriander