Tarka Dhal

Dhal is one of my very favourite Indian foods. It’s both simple and honest, not to mention so pleasantly frugal that one could it all day every day and never notice it make a dent in one’s finances. To the uninitiated, dhal may at first appear sloppy and unappealing – rather like porridge – but once you’ve had a chance to experience its dense and satisfying texture your views on Indian cuisine will be forever enhanced.

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This is my third dhal recipe, but it is fundamentally different from the other two in that it wasn’t conceived as a side-dish, though it may act as such. What this means is that while the flavour of the other two was delicious, it was exceedingly simple; whereas the taste of this dhal will excite and ignite your palette, though not in a literal sense. Indeed, the combination of black onion seeds, which are surprisingly fragrant, and garam masala, a spice mix known for its dark perfume and body, make this an enticing prospect for even the more snobbish taste buds in existence.

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This red lentil dhal recipe is to be the last in the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall mini-series. I’ve been enjoying his recipe book rather a lot, but it’s time, once again, to cast my culinary gaze that little bit further. His book has really inspired me to cook with vegetables, even more than before. Which, I suppose, is a good thing, given that dad returned from work, a couple of days ago, with the most enormous marrow. I’ve never even contemplated cooking with marrow – I shall have to don the thinking cap once more.

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