To the untrained eye, this may look like the most unappetising thing since McDonalds started putting an egg-like thing in their breakfasts – little joke there, please don’t sue me, I don’t have the money or the commitment – but it is the most delicious dhal I have ever tasted. And I’ve tasted quite a few.
Believe it or not, I first experienced it at one of the wee boy’s friends birthday parties. The children were having the usual array of foods that squidge or crunch, but my lovely friends had made this for the grown ups.
Heavenly on two levels.
Firstly because it meant we didn’t have to pinch, under the guise of helping our child eat, the foods that squidge etc. and secondly, because it was a taste sensation I just wasn’t prepared for, and consequently stayed with me for days afterwards. I can even remember the exact spot I was standing in, when I first tasted it. I kid you not.
So what makes this a ‘stand out in the crowd’ dhal then?
I think it’s the mint. There is something about it that gives the dhal a freshness whilst complimenting the heat of the chilli. But before you switch off, already coming out in sweats from my mere mention of chilli, the beautiful thing about this, indeed all potentially hot food, is that you can add as little or as many chilli as you like. So when I’m making it for my family, I don’t add any extra chilli at all. The cayenne is suffice. I know, a revelation.
Now then, you’ll need 3 tablespoons of ghee (if you don’t have this I combine vegetable oil and a knob of butter), 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped, 1/2 teaspoon of both cayenne and turmeric, 1 teaspoon salt, 185g red lentils, 750ml water, 3-4 green chilli, chopped and 3 – 4 tablespoons of chopped mint.
Melt the ghee (or oil and butter) in a pan, add garlic, chilli, turmeric, cayenne, mix together for a minute or so then add lentils, water and salt. Bring to the boil, then simmer, until the lentils are cooked.
Add the mint.
Stir into the dhal and simmer for approximately 2 minutes.
Nip round the corner to Medina, buy, ‘made whilst you wait, 4 for a £1’ beautiful naan bread. Come home, heat up the dhal and eat with the naan.
It is, without doubt, the most wonderful thing to have hit your palette in a very long time. As long as you like both lentils and mint. Although, I would suggest that it’s worth giving it a go, even if you’re not that keen. After all, what have you got to lose, and just look at what you might gain…