It is said that smell can trigger memories more powerfully than any other sense, which is a wonderful thing when it comes to food and family time.
The gorgeous smell of fragrant dhal spices and toasted bread instantly brings a nostalgia for family Sunday suppers to me, and my Dad’s dhal on toast. We all loved that last opportunity to put off Monday morning, sitting around the table, engaged in ridiculous family banter whilst eating delicious dhal.
This is my Dad’s recipe (thanks Dad!), I’ve tweaked it a little so it’s more subtle and creamy for little taste buds. Our tiny taste-test team have all tried it; the tentative eaters enjoyed it and the guzzlers loved it, oh AND it gets husband approval too! Don’t miss the fresh lime, it’s gorgeous.
Not only tasty – there’s heaps of nourishing stuff in each mouthful – Lentils are a good source of protein and iron, with the vitamin C from the tomatoes boosting that iron absorption. The full fat in the coconut milk is important for baby brain development and the turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory. It is also a very easy base to which you can add (and hide!) additional secret greens or diced veg.
If you want to add more flavour when making this for older children or adults, you can stir in ginger, chilli or a favourite garam masala with the onion at the start of the method. We suggest eating the dhal alongside some brown rice (or couscous for littler ones) and toasted bread with a few dollops of mango chutney and yoghurt.
- Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic, pop in a large non stick saucepan and fry gently in the oil until soft.
- Lower the heat and add the turmeric, cumin and cinnamon. Stir and gently fry for two minutes with the onions and garlic whilst the flavours develop, be sure not to burn the garlic.
- Add your ‘secret veg’ now
- Add the washed lentils, stir-fry for a few minutes. Don’t let the lentils catch.
- Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, 450 mls water, tomato purée and stir well. Bring the mixture to the boil.
- If feeding toddlers add the chickpeas (rinsed) and frozen peas now.
- Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for around 25 minutes, stirring from time to time so that the mixture is not catching.
- Whilst your lentils are gently simmering you can get your brown rice or couscous ready, cooking to the packet instructions.
- The lentils should now be soft and the sauce thick and creamy. Stir in baby spinach and half the fresh coriander until it’s evenly distributed throughout the lentils and squeeze in all the juice from one lime.
- Your brown rice should be nearly ready.
- Serve your Dhal with brown rice/couscous and a lime wedge, scattering with the remaining fresh coriander and a little spinach.
- Mango chutney (for grown ups) and yoghurt out on the table and you’re good to go!