First impressions are terribly important, but then so is not judging a book by its cover. This may look, on first glance, like a bowl of indistinct yellow mush but trust me, don’t judge this bowl of incredible-ness by its ‘rustic’ appearance. When I have a bowl of dahl it has to be three things: comforting, frugal and full of garlic. My Yellow Split Pea Dahl, which I have been trying and testing for some time now, fulfils all of my dahl needs and wants. Absolutely dahl-icious.
You will need (for four hearty bowls):
- 300g dried yellow split peas £0.40
- 1.2 litres water
- Large pinch salt £0.02
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil and 1 tbsp butter* £0.10
- 1 large onion, finely sliced £0.10
- Large pinch dried fenugreek leaves £0.05
- Small thumb sized piece ginger, grated £0.15
- 1 tsp garam masala £0.10
- 1 green chilli, halved £0.15
- 6 large cloves of garlic, sliced £0.20
- 1/2 tsp turmeric £0.05
- 2 large tomatoes, seeds removed and roughly diced £0.60
- Black pepper £0.02
*Replace the butter with rapeseed oil to make this vegan.
Rinse the lentils in a sieve until the water runs clear.
Tip the lentils into a large saucepan and add the water, garam masala, turmeric and salt. Bring everything to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 60-75 minutes, loosely covered. Skim off any foam that rises in the first few minutes of cooking.
Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan then add the onion and fenugreek leaves. Fry gently for at least 30 minutes until softened and starting to turn pale golden. Add the garlic and cook for another 8-10 minutes until everything is golden brown. Add the ginger and chilli and cook for another couple of minutes. Finally, add the tomato and fry for five minutes, ensure everything is mixed together well.
When the lentils are cooked and thickened, stir through the onion and tomato mixture with plenty of black pepper. Taste and add a little more salt if needed.
Having a pot of lentils bubbling and blipping away on the hob is one of the most comforting sounds. I love the mealy smell that comes from cooking up lentils and coupled with the amazing smell of frying, gently caramelising onions I can’t think of many meals that equal the anticipation. Vegetarian (vegan if you leave the butter out), thick, full of garlic and lightly spiced this is the soup for autumn. It thickens up as it cools so don’t be perturbed if you get it out of the fridge the following day and think you should be slicing it. I eat it simply on its own but if you fancy cooking up some chapati or paratha and having a dunk, all the better.