I am amazed by how versatile lentils are. There are so many types of lentils and there are so many different ways you can cook them that I’m pretty sure I could live on them if I had to and never get bored.
This lentil recipe is slightly spicier than other ones I’ve blogged, but it’s tasty. I have adapted it from a lentil dish a Sindhi friend of mine cooked up one Saturday morning in her apartment in Mumbai.
Again, this amount gave us enough for five main meals. The cauliflower is an Indonesian recipe that I made for no reason other than I had cauliflower and was missing Jakarta.
200g of Mung Dhal (but any small lentils would do, I think)
1/2 Teaspoon of Turmeric
3 Teaspoon of Fresh Ginger
1 Tablespoon of Oil
Pinch of Salt
1 Tablespoon of Tamarind
1 Tablespoon of Brown Sugar
100g Butter or Ghee
2 Teaspoons of Panch Phoran
2 Tablespoons of Curry Leaves (Optional)
3 Green Chillies
Clean the lentils by rinsing them 3-4 times in fresh water.
Peel and finely chop the ginger.
Remove the curry leaves (if you’re using them) from the stalks and chop them (use scissors – it’s easier).
Chop the chillies (again, a scissors makes this job easier). Also, when handling chillies, be sure to wash your hands afterwards – chilli juice on any mucous membrane can really hurt! Alternatively, you can wear latex gloves or just put a light film of oil over your fingers. This creates a barrier between your skin and the chilli oil.
Put the cleaned lentils, turmeric, 1 teaspoon of the fresh ginger, salt and the oil into about 500mls of water.
Bring to the boil and then turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for about 40 minutes. The lentils will not retain their shape. They will disintegrate, but not in a soupy way, and have a slightly creamy texture.
While the lentils are bubbling away, prepare the tamarind. Just pop the paste into about 250mls of boiling water and leave it there for about 20 minutes. If you don’t have tamarind, don’t fret; it lends a sour taste to the mixture (it aids digestion and has other health benefits like combating nausea, too) and has a slightly binding effect, but a splash of malt vinegar will suffice – or you can leave it out altogether.
Push the tamarind paste through a small sieve into the water and remove the stones.
Heat the butter or ghee in a small frying pan and add the panch phoran, curry leaves, chillies and the rest of the chopped ginger.
Fry this spice mix gently for about 2 minutes, being careful not to let it burn.
Pour this cooked spice mixture over the lentils and stir to mix well.
I added a tablespoon of coconut chutney to this but didn’t include it in the list of ingredients because it’s not something that’s easy to come by. I think, if you like coconut, a tablespoon of grated coconut, toasted, might add the same flavour.
Bungkul Santan (Cauliflower in Coconut Milk)
1 Head of Cauliflower (about 350g)
1 400mls Can of Coconut Milk
1/2 can of Tomatoes (about 200g)
1 Teaspoon of Ground Pepper
1 Teaspoon of Chilli Powder
1 Teaspoon of Turmeric
1 Teaspoon of Salt
2 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil (or Sunflower Oil or any Vegetable Oil)
Remove the leaves and tough green stalks from the cauliflower.
Separate into florets and wash.
Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok and add spices.
Cook them over a medium heat until they release their fragrance. Take care not to let them burn. If they do, you need to start again, because burnt spices really will run the taste of your dish.
Add the cauliflower and saute for about for about five minutes on a medium heat until covered in spices and starting to brown.
Add the coconut milk and tomatoes.
Turn the heat up until the mixture just comes to the boil.
Turn the heat down low again, cover and cook, simmering for about ten minutes.
Add the tamarind and cook for another 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is al dente.