Traditional Indian Tarka Dhal is made with just red lentils, onion, garlic and spices. But I'm always looking for ways to add more veggies to my plate, so I started to add chopped carrot and spinach. The result? Dhal with carrots and spinach. :) Lentils are an excellent source of fibre, they are high in protein, and a good source of iron, B vitamins and magnesium. Apart from all the nutritional benefits they offer, red lentils are also extremely quick and easy to cook, not to mention tasty, especially when cooked with delicious Indian spices!
This is an oil-free recipe. If you like the taste of roasted garlic, you can always bake a head of garlic in the oven and squeeze a couple of cloves into the dhal. If you must fry your onion and garlic, try adding some water to a small amount of olive oil and 'steam-fry'. The carrots and spinach are optional and won't make any difference to the cooking time.
1-inch piece ginger root, grated (or ½ teaspoon ginger powder)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less, depending on your
1 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
1 stick of cinnamon
freshly ground black pepper
green chilli pepper, sliced to garnish (optional)
A handful baby spinach (optional)
Put the lentils, water, turmeric and salt in a pan and bring to the boil. Then simmer for about 15-20 minutes, lid off.
In the meantime, in another pan sauté in a cup of water (or 'steam-fry' with water and a very small amount of olive oil):
onion, garlic and ginger root
When onion is soft add:
all the spices
When the lentils are creamy and cooked, add the onion/spice mixture, mix it all in and your delicious dhal is ready. You can adjust the denseness by simmering longer or less. Just before the end of cooking, mix in a handful of baby spinach and leave to wilt.
Garnish with some sliced green chilli peppers, roasted garlic and chopped coriander leaves.
To keep with the Indian theme, serve on a bed of Basmati rice. Brown Basmati has a delicious nutty texture, plus all that extra fibre. I find that light 'grains' such as quinoa are a little swamped by the dhal, however, millet and brown rice are both good substitutes.
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