Sunday, 21 July 2013

It's a Dahl of a Sunday

The weather has closed. Summer has gone. Everybody will be white rather than red soon and I want colour, smells and flavour. Dahl is that dish. That dish that can bring back the feel of summer. It's full of goodness, totally vegetarian and vegan and one of those great dishes that you can make a bunch of and freeze. Technically, Dahl is not a dish, it's actually the name Indians use for lentils. Meaning that anything with lentils in is Dahl.  There are so many different types of Dahl and every family will have their very own recipe…this is mine.

It starts like most of my cooking with onion, garlic, ginger, cumin and coriander. Take a minute and picture the smell that is coming off these 5 ingredients once you add a little heat. Just take a minute.

Let's talk about the eye watering onion. Ok, we all know that there are a huge amount of types of onions; red, white, spring, chive, small, large etc etc. But to think that the onion family has 325 members and is one of the oldest vegetables known to man is pretty full on. There are so many legends and old wives tales about this veggie; to strap it to the soles of your feet during a cold will suck it out. Peel it under water to avoid crying (never works for me!). Fell over? Strap some slices over the bruise and overnight it will have gone….have you tried any?

This veggie has so many healing abilities that if you don't include it in your diet you really should. It's known for it's antibiotical, disinfectant, diuretic properties as well as helping with asthma, dissolving blood clots, regulating blood, infection fighting, the list goes on and on. Basically, EAT IT!

Another oldie but goodie. Ginger….that nobly dry-on-the-outside root that is so tasty! The older it is the more fibrous but, you can still use it. Make a lemon and ginger tea or rhubarb and ginger jam. Don't throw it out. A great overall promoter of circulation in the body, ginger has again, been around for years and years. Those oldies knew what they were doing back in the day! Used instead of garlic and onions to spiritually and physically cleanse, Ancient Indians preferred ginger as it produced a sweet smell that didn't offend their Gods.

I've talked about cumin here so let's have a little chat about coriander today. One thing I found when I was researching is that the oil can be used to lower glucose levels and regulate insulin. Great for us Insulin Resitant peeps or those with PCOS. It's been used as a digestive aid for years and has been found in Bronze Age ruins.

Tomatoes! I love tomatoes that grow in summer. You cannot get any sweeter, tastier little mouthfuls than fresh off the vine. And, as Rory O'Connell would say 'eating tomatoes out of season is too horrific to think about'. Ok, I'm paraphrasing but you get the gist. Don't eat veggies out of their season! Tomatoes are over 93% water and when eaten raw are super effective at reducing liver inflammation..munch away while it's the season peeps especially with all those Pimms doing the rounds.

The other vital ingredient is the lentil. I love the red variety in this dish as it gives it that bright sun shinning glow. All varieties are good for you. Scrap that. Great for you. Really really great. Especially for those of us with Insulin Resistance and blood sugar level problems. Their high fiber content helps to slow down the rise of blood sugar levels after eating. They are also a massive source of for those with hormone troubles, something to research and, yes, there's more. They are great for lowering cholesterol.


1 large red/white onion 
3+ cloves of garlic (depending on your taste. I use 5)
1-3 chillies depending on heat
2 inches peeled and grated ginger
1tsp tumeric
1tsp whole cumin seeds
1tsp coriander seeds
1tsp curry powder 
1tsp garam masala (optional)
4/5 big tomatoes/10-12 small tomatoes
250g of cooked red lentils

Slice the onion, garlic cloves and chilli finely. Add to some hot olive oil/ghee and cook till soft. Add the spices and cook some more. Slice the tomatoes and add to the pan. Stir and add some water to help cook the tomatoes. Put on a low simmer. Meanwhile cover red lentils in water and put on to cook. Once the tomatoes have broken down and the lentils are cooked add together. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with some mint yoghurt.

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