- 1 tsp cummin seeds
- 2 whole cloves & 2 star anise (optional)
- 1 Tbs garam masala & ground cumin 1 tsp cinnamon 1 Tbs fresh grated ginger
- 3 crushed garlic cloves
- 1 chopped red chilli
- 1 tsp fresh or ground turmeric
- 1 diced onion
- 1 potato peeled, quatred
- 2tsp veggie stock powder
- 3 cups of water
- 200g Split Chana dal or lentils
- 1-2 tsp salt
- 4 leaves of kale
- In a hot pan (medium-high), add cumin seeds and dry-fry until they release aroma and one starts to pop. Immediately add about 1 Tbs of oil to the pan and add in onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric (if fresh) and chilli. Stir around the pan until onion starts to soften. Add whole cloves, star anise and cinnamon.
- Add the potato, stock powder, water and chana or lentils to the pan and bring to the boil. Turn to a low-medium heat and simmer for half an hour.
- For the kale, tear or leaves from their stalks and tear into smaller pieces about 3-6cms (will shrink when cooked). Line a baking tray with kitchen paper, scatter the kale and spray with oil. Add to a high grill or oven on 180C for 5-10 minutes. Keep watching the kale as it cooks quickly and can burn easily. Once ready, turn off oven and leave the kale in there until ready to serve.
- Once the soup has reduced and the lentils and potato are cooked, use a wooden spatula or masher to mash the quartered potato. You can either mash it completely or leave some rustic pieces throughout the dal. Season with salt and serve immediately in deep bowls, garnished with crunchy kale.
If you always have spices in the cupboard and some dried lentils on hand, you can just about make this dish any night of the week. The only other extras you need are garlic, onion, ginger, and stock powder.
Dal is traditionally an Indian lentil dish that can be either a soup, or served as a warm, thick and creamy dip. The great thing about lentils is they are a healthy and high source of plant-based protein. The word ‘chana’ is the Indian name for chickpeas. If you do not have the split chana dal, you can substitute for red or brown lentils. I can always depend on a good spicy dal to satisfy the hunger on those nights that I have next to nothing in the fridge.
In this dal I have used a special trick with the potato by adding it quartered and then mashing it once cooked through, to make the soup thicker and creamier. You will see how this works when making it. You can keep a dal basic, or you can add more vegetables such as finely diced carrot, spinach, or mushrooms. If you do not have cumin seeds, it is not mandatory, however they really make an Indian dish ‘pop’ for me. Also feel free to omit the chilli if you like things mild. Serve with some warm roti bread and rice, and you have yourself a restaurant meal.