PREPARATION TIME: 20 minutes
COOKING TIME: 1½ hours
When I’m a misery, a warming bowl of dhal is the thing that will cheer me up. I make dhal a lot, mostly because it’s a storecupboard dish and I’ve always got the base ingredients to hand. The base of this dhal is pretty classic although it may seem weird having to blend sesame seeds with spices – they act as flavour, but also as an enricher for a really creamy finish. Then we roast a whole bunch of multicoloured heritage carrots, some tofu and cashew nuts and serve them on top for a more complete dinner. I serve this with cauliflower rice for an even bigger nutritional punch.
What you'll need:
800g heritage (multicoloured) chantenay carrots, peeled
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
4 x 1.5cm slices of firm tofu
For the dhal base:
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, grated
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh turmeric, grated, or 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger, grated
1 red chilli, finely chopped
100g red lentils
500ml fresh vegetable stock
1 x 400ml can coconut milk
sea salt flakes and freshly
ground black pepper
a handful of fresh coriander leaves
100g cashew nuts
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.
To make the dhal, bash the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, sesame seeds and chilli flakes together with a pestle in a mortar, or use a spice grinder. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil over a low heat in a large saucepan. Add the onions and fry very slowly for about 20 minutes, or until they have really softened and start to turn golden brown. Add the garlic, turmeric, ginger and chilli and fry for 2 minutes, then add the spices and fry for 1 minute.
Add the lentils to the pan and stir to coat them in the spices. Cover with the stock and coconut milk and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with plenty of salt and black pepper.
Put the carrots in a baking dish. Mix the coconut oil together with the cumin seeds, chilli flakes and plenty of salt and pepper, then rub over the carrots. Roast for 30–35 minutes, stirring halfway through.
For the last 15 minutes of roasting, put the tofu and the cashew nuts into the dish with the carrots and swiftly coat in the spices. Place back in the oven, turning the tofu after 10 minutes.
Serve the dhal in bowls, each topped with tofu, roasted carrots, some cashews and fresh coriander, alongside cauliflower rice.