Isn’t it depressing to look out of the window at 7 o’clock in the evening and see, well, nothing? Getting home in the dark is one of the worst things about the winter in London. Second only to leaving the house in the morning in the dark.
At this time of year, all I really want to do is throw on my PJs and my slippers (I have some Ugg ones- pure bliss!) and snuggle down with a big bowl of something warm and comforting.
This dahl really is the ultimate comfort food. It is a big huge bowl of steaming hot, somewhat stodgy, super delicious goodness. Really what’s not to love?! Plus- it is simply excellent for you! Lentils are an amazing source of iron, and for a lifelong vegetarian, iron can sometimes be a little hard to come by. Whenever I’m feeling a big run down, I erve myself up a big ol’ helping of lentils, usually with some kale thrown in for good measure too. Practically as irony as a steak!
I must confess, I am absolutely not an expert of Indian food. I mean, I am an expert of eating Indian food, but that is about as far as my expertise stretch. There is one secret weapon that I always use- garam marsala. A good tablespoon of that, along with some mustard seeds and turmeric, and it will taste like you really know your Indian stuff! Eat this dahl as a side to your favourite curry- I love sweet potato and chickpea- or just have a big bowl of it as the main event.
Red Lentil Dahl with Grilled Aubergines
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 teaspoons garam marsala
4oog red lentils
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
handful coriander, optional
In a large saucepan, heat a splash of olive oil. Add your onion to the pan, and turn the heat down to low. Cook the onion for a few minutes until it starts to soften, the add your garlic. Cook for about another minute, then add your mustard seeds and garam marsala. Cook for about 3o seconds- the mustard seeds should start to pop.
Add your lentils to the pan. Pour water into the pan until it is about two inches about the lentils. Bring it to the boil. Reduce the heat and leave your lentils to simmer for about 2o minutes. They might absorb all the water, so keep an eye on them and add more if necessary. Stir in your ground turmeric.
Slice your aubergine into thin strips, and heat a splash of olive oil in a griddle pan. Fry the aubergine slices on each side for about 5 minutes, or until it is soft and starting to char.
When your lentils are about the consistency of porridge- they will sort of turn to mush (for want of a better word!), and you won’t be able to see individual lentils anymore- they are done! Season with salt and pepper to taste, then spoon a big dollop into a bowl, and top with a few strips of aubergine and a pinch of chopped coriander, if using.