Dal is a staple dish in Indian cuisine and refers to both an ingredient and a dish. Dal means any kind of split pea or legume, and the latter the richly flavoured stew made with them. There are many different recipes for dal in Indian cuisine, and the recipe below is a simplified version using yellow split peas. Yellow split peas only require a short cooking time, which makes this an easy enough weeknight dish, and it’s topped off with a scrummy ‘tarka’, which involves sizzling spices in butter or oil and adding them to a dish. This is the secret weapon in the recipe below so don’t leave it out! Fresh curry leaves can be found in major supermarkets or specialist Asian grocers. We haven’t added chilli to the dish to make it family friendly; however, you can add some freshly sliced chilli to the tarka as we have or a teaspoon of chilli powder to the stew.
- 2cup - yellow split peas
- 4cup - water (you could also use stock)
- 400mL - tin coconut milk
- 2 - tomatoes, roughly chopped
- thumb-size piece fresh ginger, minced
- 1tsp - ground turmeric
- 1tsp - salt
- For the tarka:
- 1 - knob of butter
- 1tsp - brown or black mustard seeds
- handful of curry leaves
- fresh sliced chilli
- Put all the ingredients for the dal in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 25-30 minutes until the lentils are completely soft. Taste, and add more salt if required.
- In a small non-stick frying pan, melt the butter over high heat until it’s sizzling. Add the tarka ingredients and keep them moving around the pan until the curry leaves start to crisp and the mustard seeds start popping.
- Scoop the dal into bowls and top with the tarka.
Serve on its own or with some brown basmati rice.