Dahl is my favourite comfort food as well as a well-loved, dinner party dish but I also eat it when I am feeling the need for something plain. Dahls can be made richer with the addition of coconut milk, grated coconut or ground almonds or made simple and cleansing like this recipe. Chana dahl or just red split lentils are my favourite for a simple dahl dish like this. Chana dahl are split chick peas.
3 big handfuls of dried chana dahl
Half a large onion thinly sliced
Two cloves of garlic crushed
A thumbnail sized piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 fresh chillis
3 large tomatoes
A teaspoon each of ground coriander, ground garam masala and ground cumin
Half a teaspoon of ground tumeric
Half a teaspoon each of black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds
A medium aubergine chopped
A tablespoon of oil.
2 handfuls of fresh coriander finely chopped.
Salt to taste
Cook the chana dahl in plenty of water until it is still a little firm. This should take 20-25 minutes. Drain most of the liquid and set aside. Meanwhile add oil to the pan and cook the onion slices slowly until they are soft and caramelised. Add the aubergines with a little more oil and cover the pan for 5 minutes to allow them to soften slightly. Toast the ground and whole spices and add to the pan.
In a blender blitz the tomatoes, garlic and chilli together with 3-4 tablespoons of the dahl and the dahl liquid. Add this mixture to the pan, followed by the rest of the dahl. Add salt and a large handful of the fresh coriander and 100ml of water. Bring to the boil and simmer with the lid on the pan for around 30-40 minutes . During cooking, check whether more water is needed. When cooked the aubergine should be melting and the dahl soft but not mushy. Stir in the remaining fresh coriander.