There are so many different types of lentils and beans used in Gujerati food. It’s the primary source of protein for us because we don’t generally tend to eat meat.
This is a quick and simple dish which I have developed from the dhal formula my mother taught me. It’s quick and you can use pre cooked lentil packs to make this even faster. If you want to reduce the cooking time for uncooked lentils, you can soak them in cold water for a few hours. I usually leave them to soak on the morning of when I have planned to make this.
The halloumi is of course not very Gujerati and therefore optional but I add it in there for a little extra protein. This is how adaptable our dishes can be. Instructions for alternative serving suggestions and a child friendly version at the bottom.
- 250g puy lentils
- 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3-4 curry leaves – optional
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp red chilli powder
- 3 tsp cumin and coriander powder
- 125g halloumi
- Fresh coriander to garnish
- Half a fresh lemon
To make it
- Wash the lentils well to remove the starch. Follow the same process as I’ve noted for rice.
- Put the lentils on to cook – they should take about 20 minutes.
- Take the chopped tomatoes and mush them up a little with a fork so you almost have a thick puree.
- Heat the oil in another large saucepan over a medium heat.
- When the oil is hot add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds – they will fizzle and pop if the oil is hot enough. If they don’t, leave them in the oil until they do.
- Quickly add the curry leaves followed by the chopped, mushed up tomatoes.
- Fill the tin of tomatoes with water and pour this into the pan. (See Note 1)
- Add the salt, turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander and cumin powder, give it a stir with a fork (Note 2) and leave to simmer with a lid on. (See Note 3)
- Once the puy lentils are cooked, drain them and then add them to the tomato and spice mixture and stir until well combined. It should not be sticking because if you covered the simmering pan there should be more than enough liquid but if not, add a little more water now.
- Chop the halloumi into cubes and add it in.
- Zest the lemon and add it in.
- Simmer for another 10 minutes and then stir in the lemon juice and garnish with fresh, chopped coriander.
This serves about 4.
- Note 1 – My mother taught me never to waste even the tiny bits of tomato in the tin. Swirling some water in the tin makes sure you get every last one.
- Note 2 – If you stir with a wooden spoon, all your sipces will stick to it. This is why we use a fork.
- Note 3 – If you leave the lid off, the water will evaporate quicker and you’ll get a less soupy dhal.
- Toast some pitta bread and stuff each half with this dhal and some fresh chopped tomatoes
- Instead of rice, serve this dhal on top of couscous or bulghar wheat.
- Simply pour into a bowl and have with a couple of thick slices of sourdough toast.
- Add only half a tin of water to make this thicker in consistency and serve with nacho chips and sour cream.
Making this for children
Follow the same recipe but leave out the salt and red chilli powder. When it’s ready, take our their portions and then stir these in.