Good for the kid: red lentil daal

The second dish that I regularly cook for my little one is red lentil daal. Mixed in with some white rice, it’s become a favourite of hers, and it’s also a good way to beef up some leftover curries to eat the following day. Inspired by my friend Hannah, I also like to serve red lentil daal topped with a hot and dry green lentil curry with plenty of ghee, as a cheap, filling midweek dinner. For now, here’s the kids’ version without added salt or chilli. It makes enough to serve about six as a side dish or four adults as a main, but the flavours improve overnight and it keeps well in the fridge. My daughter also likes to eat cold red lentil daal as a dip with crackers for lunch or a snack.

Red lentil daal

Light oil for frying
1 tsp panch phoran (equal parts: whole cumin, black onion, fenugreek, fennel and black mustard seeds)
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 large cloves garlic, grated
1″ fresh root ginger, grated
1 onion, sliced
2 cups red lentils
1/4 tinned tomato or 1 dessert spoon tomato purée
4 cups hot water
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Fry the panch phoran for 1-2 mins until fragrant then add the sliced onion and cook until golden.

Add grated garlic and ginger and fry off for a further minute or so before adding the turmeric, followed by the red lentils and twice their volume of boiling hot water.

Stir well and cook off for 15-20 minutes until the lentils are soft but still retain some of their shape, stir regularly and add more water if needed to stop the lentils from sticking to the pan.

Serve with chopped coriander, a wedge of lemon and white rice.

Leftover daal makes a warming winter soup, just add water, some coconut milk or cream (if you have some to hand), some extra lemon or lime juice, a touch of dried chilli and some fresh mint, coriander or spinach to freshen the pot.

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