Being able to quickly throw the ingredients for this dish together is very useful when you need to make something that can look after itself after it's assembled. As long as you've soaked the lentils, then you can quickly add the rest of the ingredients. The cinnamon quills add an interesting flavor, but if you don't have any quills just add fresh, finely ground cinnamon.
If you want the flavor to intensify, then simply make the dahl a day ahead, cool it, refrigerate, and heat it up again the next day. I like to soak double the amount of lentils that the recipe calls for, then freeze half of them after I've drained them, so that next time I make the dish, I don't have to do any soaking. You can use either yellow Chana Dahl lentils, which take longer to cook, or Red Split lentils, which take less time. Either way this is a great, satisfying, nourishing meal.
1½ cups yellow Chana Dahl lentils, or Red Split lentils (see under Method below)
4 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp black mustard seeds
1 Tbsp medium curry powder
15 fresh curry leaves – finely chopped or left whole
2 medium red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp fresh ginger (grated)
1 large carrot, finely chopped or grated
1 tin coconut cream, leaving a few teaspoons in the tin for serving time
3 cups boiling water
2 whole cinnamon quills or ½ tsp fresh, finely ground fresh cinnamon
Herbal salt to taste – about 1 tsp
½ bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped
- Pick through the lentils to make sure there are no stones, then soak them for a whole day (or overnight), and drain them well.
- Heat the coconut oil in a large pot and when hot add the mustard seeds.
- Put the lid on the pot and wait for the sound of popping. When this happens turn the heat off and wait until popping subsides.
- Turn the heat on again and add the curry powder and curry leaves.
- Stir to combine then add the onions, carrot, garlic and ginger, stirring again.
- Add the drained lentils and stir to coat with the spices.
- Add the coconut cream and water and bring to the boil.
- Add the two cinnamon quills and allow them to cook with the lentils.
- Turn the heat down to a simmer and continue to cook until the lentils are completely soft. The time will depend on whether you are using the harder and bigger yellow Chana Dahl lentils, or the smaller, softer Split Red lentils. It will take anywhere from 40 minutes to 90 minutes for the yellow lentils and about 30–40 minutes for the red lentils.
- Add the herbal salt and turn the heat off.
- Serve with a good sprinkle of chopped coriander and a drizzle of coconut cream that you left behind in the tin.
- If you've prepared the Dahl for the next day, don't add the coriander until serving time.