I am trying to eat more protein and I think it’s good to eat more protein from sources other than meat. So I got inspired on the weekend to go down the lentil path. I’m not that keen on lentils, but lentils in the form of dhal takes them from bland to spicy and very tasty!
The idea for this dish came from watching the hilarious series from Jamie Oliver “Keep Cooking and Carry On”. Jamie made the series in lockdown last year and it’s hilarious as most of the episodes are Jamie cooking at home, filmed on an iPhone with his kids helping (or hindering) the process!
One dish from the show was an eggplant (aubergine) dhal. So I got motivated to make my own version of a tasty dhal dish.
The recipe is pretty easy as I’m using bought curry simmer sauce, so no need for extensive ingredients. It’s a one pot dish too, as you roast the vegetables and then cook the lentils in the one pot or dish. Roasting the veggies has the advantage of giving the dhal a nutty, caramelised flavour.
And my genius if slightly unconventional accompaniments of hard boiled eggs, yoghurt and chutney really make the dish!
Approximately 2 cups cut pumpkin – about half of a small pumpkin or butternut squash
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup of any good curry simmer sauce or 3 tablespoons of curry paste*
250g any lentils (I used 200g red lentils with 50g split peas as that’s all I had)
1 litre boiling water
400g tin whole tomatoes – cherry tomatoes if you can get them
A handful of fresh cherry tomatoes
2 hard boiled eggs
2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt
1 tablespoon mango chutney
Basil leaves or any other herb
*Any sauce or paste is ok – Rogan Josh, Butter Chicken, Korma, Tikka Masala or Tandoori.
Peel the pumpkin and chop into small chunks. Peel the onions and roughly chop. Put the pumpkin and onions into a heavy based pan. Make sure this pan can be used on the stove top and that it has a lid.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Pour over the oil and the simmer sauce (or curry paste). Roughly mix everything together.
Put the pan into the oven lid off and roast for about 30 minutes, or until the pumpkin is soft and the onions are caramelised.
Remove from the oven. Take about half of the roast pumpkin and onions and put into another dish and cover with foil.
Stir the lentils and roast veggies into the boiling water. Add the tinned tomatoes.
Put the pan onto the stovetop on a medium heat. Add the lentils to the pan and the litre of boiling water. Note: if you used curry paste rather than simmer sauce you will need to add another 250 mls or so of water.
Turn the heat to low and simmer the mixture with the lid on, until the lentils are soft and the dhal has thickened, about an hour. It’s hard to say exact how long – you will know when the lentils are cooked and really soft. Add a bit more water if the dhal is too thick or it’s sticking to the pan.
Once the dhal is cooked, remove from the heat. Check the seasoning. If you want it hotter, you could add some chilli flakes or even a spoonful of curry taste.
Stir in the rest of the roasted pumpkin and onion that you put aside. Or you can just place them on top of the dhal without stirring them in.
Serve as is or you could add the extras I used – fresh cherry tomatoes, hard boiled eggs scattered with chilli flakes, some Greek yoghurt and mango chutney. Scatter the dhal with basil leaves or any other fresh herb you have on hand.