I make this coconut dhal quite often. It is reasonably quick to make, so tasty and - like my Prawn and Fish Laksa – it is proper Asian-style comfort food.
To make it into a really healthy meal, serve it with oven-roasted vegetables – such as squash, pumpkin, carrots and sweet potatoes – and some steamed green vegetables.
When I’m on my own, I often add nothing but raw watercress and red peppers (bell peppers) to my portion of coconut dhal. Raw watercress is truly super-healthy (see Nutritional Information) and the seriously peppery taste of watercress goes really well with this spicy dish.
Raw vitamin C-rich peppers add crunch and yet more taste to this dish - but I go for the long pointed peppers as I find that they have so much more taste.
I add both mustard seeds and turmeric. These spices are rich in curcumin, which is a really powerful antioxidant.
I also add a pinch of dried asafoetida. It is a spice that aids digestion and reduces flatulence, so it’s a good thing to add to dishes with beans and lentils in them! Some supermarkets sell it but if you can’t find it there, try shops that specialise in Asian food.
For 4 people:
300g, 10½oz, 1.3 cups, red lentils
2 tablespoons coconut oil - or use groundnut or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed/minced
2 - 3 red chillies – depending on how spicy you like it - deseeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
A pinch of asafoetida (optional)
12 -16 small ripe tomatoes – like cherry or plum tomatoes – halved
400ml, 13½floz, 1¾ cups, coconut milk
400ml, 13½floz, 1¾ cups water
Salt and pepper
1. Start by rinsing the lentils under plenty of cold water. Drain in a sieve and leave to the side. Add the oil, mustard and cumin seeds to a pot over a medium-high heat. When the seeds start to “crackle and pop”, add the chopped onion to the pot and stir and cook for about five minutes.
2. Add the crushed garlic, chopped chillies, ground ginger, coriander, turmeric and asafoetida (if using) to the pot and continue to cook for a further minute.
3. Add the rinsed lentils, tomatoes, coconut milk and water. Season with some salt and pepper, stir and bring to a simmer.
4. Simmer for about 20 minutes – it is important that you stir it from time to time or it will stick at the bottom of the pot - until the lentils are tender. Taste and check the seasoning before serving.