Creamy dhal with turmeric-toasted cauliflower
We found that Indian-inspired dishes were some of our favourites during both our vegetarian and vegan adventures – and this one was a highlight of both. It works either as a main course in its own right, served with rice, naan and mango chutney, or in combination with two or three other contrasting Indian vegetable dishes. The ingredients list looks long, but nothing is hard to source and you may already have several, if not all, of the spices in your cupboard. This is by Thomasina Miers in The Guardian.
For the spice mix:
For the cauliflower:
If using dried lentils, rinse them in cold water and tip into a large pan with the bay leaf, cinnamon and chilli. Cover with plenty of water and a heaped teaspoon of salt, bring to a simmer and cook for 40-45 minutes, until the lentils are completely soft but still keep their shape.
Easy version: I used 500g of ready cooked Beluga lentils, warmed up in the microwave according to the packet instructions. I didn’t add the salt, chilli, cinnamon or bay, but you could certainly add a pinch of chilli flakes and a tsp of both salt and ground cinnamon to the warm lentils if you like.
Heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, toast the spice mix ingredients for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Discard the cardamom husks before grinding in a spice grinder to a fine powder.
Heat the oven to 220°C (200°C Fan/425F/gas7). Melt half the vegan spread (or butter) and the oil in a deep casserole dish. Fry the onion for 5 minutes until it begins to soften. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Stir in the spice mix, garma masala and ground cinnamon and, a minute later, the tomato paste. Gently fry for 3 minutes, then stir the (drained) lentils into the pan. Add enough water to create a thick, soup-like consistency, bring back up to heat and taste, adding more salt if needed. Cover with a tight fitting lid and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
Line a baking tray with foil. Toss the cauliflower florets and leaves with the turmeric, oil and a teaspoon of salt, then turn out onto the tray. Roast in the oven along with the dhal for 20-25 minutes until crisp and golden in parts.
Once the cauliflower is cooked, remove everything from the oven. Stir the coconut cream (or cream) and remaining vegan spread (or butter) into the lentils and check the seasoning again.
Spoon the dhal into bowls, top with the roasted cauliflower, sprinkle with the fresh chilli and coriander, and serve.
A juicy Italian red (we found a Sicilian Nero d’Avola worked well) or an earthy white works well. It’s great with a hoppy, tangy beer too.