Wintery (5-a-day) dhal

This is delicious, hearty and full of stuff that’s really good for you. I bet it has your 5 a day so I will call it 5 a day dhal. (For those of you not living in the UK, 5 a day is a government initiative trying to make Brits eat 5 pieces of fruit and vegetables every day). It is basically a lentil stew with carrots, potato and spinach (but I also count onion as a vegetable so together with the lentils it makes for 5 different vegetables), spiced with garam masala and cinnamon. It is very cheap. Probably £1 per serving, if even that. This is good to make in a large batch on sunday and keep eating for dinner throughout the week if you’re having a busy week ahead. Since it has lots of carrots (vitamin C), chili (anti-viral), garlic (just generally good) and ginger (anti-cold) it is a also a secret weapon during the cold season to keep the immune system boosted.
For two large portions, you need:
  • 1 potato (if you use a King edward variety they will become really soft and gooey, which I like, but if you prefer consistency then get something firmer)
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 deciliters red lentils
  • Fresh spinach
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely, chopped
  • 1 cm ginger, finely chopped
  • Garam masala. I use a Swedish variety which until recently was the only thing named “curry” you could get in Sweden. (Saying you fancy a curry to a Swede might have the same effect as if you asked for some nutmeg to eat.) A good thing about Swedish curry, however, is that it is a sweet, mild and nutty variant of garam masala with plenty of turmeric, and it is delicious.
  • 1 litre stock (I have a massive thing for veal stock at the moment, which has a very delicate and soft flavour. This ruins the dish for vegetarians, but you can of course make this with veggie or mushroom stock)
  • Chili flakes
  • Cinnamon
  • Salt

Start by frying the onion in a bit of oil, then peel and chop the garlic and ginger and add into the oinons together with the garam masala to fry for a few minutes. Rinse the lentils and add them to the pan together with the stock and chili. Peel the carrots and potato, and chop in rough bits. Add these to the boiling lentils in the pan, and bring the heat down for it to simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils have softened and the potatoes and carrots gone the right consistency. Taste with salt and cinnamon, and stir in the fresh spinach so that it folds and softens.

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The result is a yellow mix between a soup and a stew, not too dissimilar to Innocent’s Indian daal pot (but at 15% of the price). Serve on its own, or together with some cheese grilled bread.

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