When I began this blog seven odd months ago I had no intention of posting recipes, partly because there are so many truly amazing, dedicated blogs out there about food. Nonetheless the recipes began creeping in because, well because I love good, home-cooked food. It’s a part of who I am and this blog is me, in all my eccentricities.
So today dear friends I’m posting a recipe for da Bluebird!
My version of Dahl and Rice was inspired by an Anglo-Indian dish that my late mother-in-law used to make. I’ve fiddled with the original recipe so it’s not quite authentic but the family love it and so do family friends who cannot eat wheat products. But what is dahl?
The tiny red lentils pictured on the left are the heroes of this lentil stew with a mild, Indian flavour. Here in Australia you can find them in the dry bean section of most supermarkets.
One of the things I love about red lentils [as distinct from their bigger, green and brown cousins] is that they do not need to be soaked before cooking. That makes dahl a fairly quick and easy meal to prepare when you don’t feel like eating a heavy meat meal. Or on those days when guests arrive out of the blue and the fridge is bare! [I keep red lentils in the pantry at all times!]
Ingredients [serves 4]
1 cup of dried red lentils
1 large brown onion chopped fine.
3 cloves of fresh garlic, mashed or chopped
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 generous teaspoon of ground cummin*
1/2 a teaspoon of ground tumeric*
pinch of salt
3 cups of water [or a mix of water and any left over chicken soup you may have in the freezer]
2-3 tablespoons of peanut oil [it goes better with asian style dishes than olive oil but use whatever you have].
1. Sometimes the quality of the red lentils varies so I always give them a quick check and remove any dark bits of grit that may have snuck in.
2. Gently sweat the onions and the garlic in the peanut oil until they are translucent and golden brown.
3. Add the cummin and tumeric and allow to cook gently for a minute so the onion mix becomes aromatic.
4. Mix the red lentils into the onion mix and allow them to braise for about 5 minutes to soak in the flavours. Stir frequently so they don’t burn!
5. Add the tomato paste, stir and allow to braise for another minute or two. Again don’t let it all burn!
6. Add the salt and the water/soup stock. Stir, bring to the boil and then lower heat and cook covered for about 10 minutes.
7. After 10 minutes check the lentils. They should have begun to swell and absorb the liquid. Add more water if the stew is starting to look thick. Keep cooking for another 10 minutes.
8. Total cooking time will vary but allow for about 1/2 an hour. You will know the stew is done when the lentils have almost disintegrated and the stew has a rich, orange colour and is about as thick as a bolognese sauce. Remove from the heat.
Rice and accompaniments.
Cook about 1 1/2 cups of long grain rice. [I use the absorption method because I have a heavy, cast iron pot with a good lid but you should use whatever method you are comfortable with].
While the rice is cooking heat a frypan with some more peanut oil and crack 2 eggs – freerange of course 😉 – into a bowl. Beat the eggs lightly and then pour a small quantity into the hot pan, turning the pan quickly to spread the egg into a thin pancake. [Like making crepes].
When the first side is golden brown, flip and fry the other side for a few seconds. Remove from the pan and place on a chopping board. Repeat with the rest of the beaten egg until you have a number of flat, golden brown egg pancakes piled on the chopping board.
Cut the egg pancakes into thin strips and place in a small serving bowl.
Place a serving of rice in a bowl, top with a generous ladle full of the dahl and then sprinkle the strips of egg pancake on top. Add more salt to taste.
* If you are new to Indian spices add less to begin and then increase the quantities once your taste buds have adjusted.