Dhal was the first Indian food that I introduced to Lil’ L at around the age of two. I added some creamed coconut to give it a lovely creamy texture and pieces of butternut squash to add a touch of sweetness and to boost its nutrient content. Lil’ L absolutely loved the dish and it’s still one of his favourites today. It’s such an easy meal to make and super cheap, costing only a few pence per portion. It’s delicious served with chapattis or brown rice, or both for a mini feast!
Hands-on time: 15 minutes Ready in: 35 minutes
1 TBSP olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
18g root ginger (1 inch piece), finely grated
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp ground turmeric
225g / 1¼ cups red lentils
800ml / 3½ cups vegetable stock (broth)
2 medium tomatoes, diced
400g / 2½ cups butternut squash, diced
50g / ¼ cup creamed coconut (or coconut butter), finely chopped
salt, to taste
fresh coriander (cilantro), for garnish
Place the lentils in a fine mesh sieve and wash under cold running water, agitating them with your hand until the water runs clear.
Gently heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook the onion until it starts to soften. Meanwhile, prepare the stock and remaining vegetables.
Add the garlic, ginger and dry spices to the pan, and cook on medium-low heat for 2 minutes. If it starts to stick to the pan, add a splash of water to loosen it. Add the lentils and stir through.
Add the stock, tomatoes, squash and creamed coconut. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat, cover with a lid, and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir towards the end of the cooking time and add a splash of extra water or stock if needed. When the lentils are tender, remove the pan from the heat and leave to rest for a couple of minutes. Season with salt, to taste.
This dish is delicious served with flat breads (home-made chapattis or soft flour tortillas), brown rice or both!
Any leftover dhal can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or for weeks in the freezer.