How do I love thee, dal, let me count the ways.
I am a pretend vegetarian. I am actually more of a pescatarian, although from time to time I love a melt in your mouth, bloody rare steak. But I still pretend I’m a vegetarian. Being madly obsessed with beans, pulses, vegetables, grains, something like a dal is my best bud.
I first discovered a love for dal when I was in Malaysia, in transit from Ipoh to the Cameron Highlands. Just before jumping on a bus I spotted a food market and of course, with the pretense of being a vegetarian I picked up a dal. That day changed my life, and intensified my phony vegetarian ways.
This recipe makes a nice big pan’s worth – perfect for lazy weekends where your stomach has somehow morphed into a seemingly bottomless pit.
- 100g yellow split peas, soaked overnight
- 150g fresh spinach, stalks removed
- 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
- 2 small cloves garlic, finely crushed with salt
- 200g chopped tomatoes, fresh or tinned
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped (keep the seeds for extra heat)
- 1 teaspoon chilli paste
- Lemon juice
- Fresh parsley, finely chopped (for garnish)
- 1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon tumeric
- 1 ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
- Salt, pepper
- Olive oil
- Boiling water
In a deep frying pan, heat some olive oil then sauté the onion for a few minutes before adding the garlic and chilli. Gently sweat for a few minutes more before adding the chilli paste, a squeeze of lemon juice, the tomato paste and all the spices until a thick paste is formed. Add the prepared split peas, mix well and season with salt and pepper.
Once mixed well, add the chopped tomatoes and enough boiling water to cover. Cook on a low heat for around 30-40 minutes, adding water when needed, until the split peas are tender.
Once you are happy with the split peas, check seasoning and add the spinach, letting it wilt from the heat of the dal, then stir it in.
Garnish with parsley and served with toasted khobiz bread.