HOW TO: Coconut Dal

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Now that Winter is well and truly underway I’ve been cooking warming, fragrant meals that make me feel all cosy even when it’s freezing outside. This coconut dal does just that, and it’s comfort food with a nutritional boost too thanks to the protein packed lentils. I’ve kept it fairly simple with mellow spices that complement the sweetness of the coconut milk and only a couple of extra vegetables, but feel free to add in or omit what you like. Roasted peppers, aubergine and sweet potato are great stirred into this, or you could swap the spinach for kale or green beans.

Serves 3 to 4

Ingredients:

-2-3 tbs coconut oil/ olive oil

-1 large red onion, diced

-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

-1 thumb size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

-2 tsps cumin seeds

-250g red split lentils

-1 x 400ml can coconut milk

-1 tsp curry powder

-a generous pinch cinnamon and/ or nutmeg

-1 tsp turmeric

-1 tsp salt

-2 large handfuls fresh spinach

-1 large handful cherry tomatoes, cut in half

-1 handful fresh coriander, chopped, to serve

Directions:

Set a good size sauce pan over a medium heat on the hob and heat your oil. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and cumin seeds and cook until soft and fragrant – about 5 minutes.

Rinse your lentils under cold water in a sieve and tip into the pan. Add in the can of coconut milk and stir so that everything is well combined. Have the heat on medium high, or at the point where the coconut milk is simmering but not at a rolling boil. Cook for about 20-25 minutes (check with the packet instructions on the lentils), stirring occasionally,  until the lentils are starting to lose their shape and are breaking down into a thick pulp. If at any point during cooking it looks like the liquid in the pan is almost boiled away, top up the coconut milk with a little water. You want most of the liquid to be absorbed by the end but the lentils should be submerged throughout the cooking time. Next add in your spices and salt, tasting and adjusting if you like, followed by the spinach and tomatoes. Stir to combine, until the spinach is wilted.

Remove the pan from the heat, scatter over the coriander and your dal is ready! Serve with quinoa, brown rice, chapattis, or whatever you like. It goes great with mango chutney and/or – if you’re feeling ambitious – plain yoghurt stirred together with chopped mint, cucumber and garlic. Any leftover dal can be decanted into an airtight container once cool and stored in the fridge for a couple of days. To reheat, just spoon into a saucepan with a splash of water and warm through on the hob

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