Being lucky enough to spend a few weeks in Goa in February, I embarked on a culinary odyssey, consuming nothing but Indian fare for two weeks, sampling as many new dishes as I could and watching people cook wherever possible. So be warned! Over the next few weeks I’ll be featuring Indian recipes galore, as I try my best to recreate the gorgeous Goa deliciousness.
I learnt the most watching Sooni, the talented cook at Little Cove yoga retreat where I stayed, who created the most delectable vegetarian thalis every day. I also had a brilliant cooking class with Ahmet in Arambol, who shows his students how to make 10 separate dishes in a morning.
This dahl recipe is an adaptation from these experiences.
Dahl in South India is served with the consistency of a thin soup. I’m normally a die-hard brown rice fan, but dahl cooked like this is begging for a pile of fluffy white basmati to soak up those lovely yellow juices.
The main ingredients are readily at any supermarket, but if you can get hold of the optional extras, they’re worth adding, to take your dahl to another level.
250g red split lentils
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 heaped tbsp curry leaves, fresh or dried
1 bulb of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
½-1 red or green chilli, deseeded (depending on heat required) and finely chopped
2 fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tbsp freshly ground coriander or coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala (see my recipe to make your own)
Small bunch of fresh coriander (about 25g), chopped
1 tsp mango powder
1 tsp chat masala
1 heaped tsp fenugreek leaf
Rinse the lentils and cover them with a litre of cold water, then add turmeric and salt. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until soft.
Meanwhile, heat the oil on a medium-high heat and when it’s hot, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to pop, turn the heat down to medium and add the chopped garlic and chilli, stirring for a few minutes before adding the chopped tomatoes.
Cook for 5 minutes. Add the coriander and garam masala, along with the mango powder, chat masala and fenugreek leaf, if using. Stir for a few minutes then add a bit of water to make a thick paste and stop the spices from sticking.
Add the cooked lentils and their water, adding an extra 100ml if you want a thinner soupy consistency. Cook on a low heat for 10 minutes, before adding the fresh coriander.
I serve this with some jeera rice (fry 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds for a few minutes, then add basmati rice for four people and fry, before adding enough water to cover, and simmering until done), but chapatis are equally good, especially if you’re serving it as a soup.