Lentil Dhal, the perfect, protein packed winter meal! It’s getting a lot colder now, so warm and hearty comfort food is in order. Thursday is my night to cook so, naturally it’s going to be vegan. The only issue is finding something that the rest of my meat eating family won’t turn their noes up at. We are all big fans of Indian food so I thought I’d give lentil dhal a crack. Now it may look like something your cat has thrown up but I promise, it tastes amazing- even my anti-vegan little sister was won over.
For the Dhal:
- 500g of red split lentils
- 3-5 cloves of garlic
- 1 large onion
- 2 tbsp of ground cumin
- 2 tbsp of turmeric
- 1 tbsp of garam masala
- 2tsp of chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
- 2 pints of water (you may need to add more)
- 2 tbsp vegan vegetable stock powder
- 4 bayleaves
- 1 tin of plum tomatoes
- The juice of 1 lemon
For the Naan
- 450g strong bread flour
- 7g fast acting yeast
- 300ml of lukewarm water
- 1 tsp of brown sugar
- 1 tsp of salt
- 2tbsp coconut oil
- A sprinkle of nigella (black onion) seeds
- First you need to make the dough for the naan bread. I like to do this in an electric mixer because it’s not so messy but you can always do it by hand
- Sift the flour sugar and salt into a bowl
- Add the yeast and then the water
- Mix until the the dough is shiny and not too sticky
- Now you need to leave the dough to prove for 30 minutes minimum (an hour is best)- I normally leave it on top of a radiator or the tumble dryer to keep it warm. This will allow the yeast to act quickly.
- While you are letting the dough to prove you can get started on the dhal. First, roughly chop the garlic and onions and sweat them in a large pan with the coconut oil. I prefer to use as little oil as possible when cooking so, if the pan starts to stick add a little water.
- Once the onions and garlic are soft, add all the spices apart from the vegan stock powder. You may need to add a little more water here as it can make the onions and garlic quite dry.
- Once the spices are all mixed in add the first pint of water with the vegan stock powder and stir.
- Now add the lentils and the second pint of water and the lemon juice so that they are completely covered.
- Leave to simmer on a medium heat for 10 minutes uncovered. Remember to keep stirring every now and again so that the lentils do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
- After 10 minutes some of the water should have been reduced, so you can now cover the pan, leaving a little gap at the side to let the side and cook for a further 20 minutes.
- Every five minutes or so, go back and check that the lentils are not too dry- you can always add more water.
- When you can no longer distinguish each individual lentil, the dhal should be ready- give it a taste and add more seasoning if you need to before serving.
- Once the dhal is cooked it’s time to bake the naan!
- Turn on the grill to a high-medium setting and heat the coconut oil in a pan.
- Once the oil is melted pour most of it into a bowl and leave it to one side.
- Divide the dough into four equal pieces and roll into a rough circle.
- Fry each piece (but only on one side) until it is golden brown on the bottom. You should see little air bubbles popping up, if you don’t that means you pan is not hot enough.
- Now, brush the top side of your bread with a little coconut oil and sprinkle the nigella seeds on top.
- Once the bottom of your bread is golden, put the frying pan under the grill and toast the bread until the top is brown. You should see more bubbles popping up.
- Repeat this step until all the dough is cooked. You can keep the bread in the oven on a low temperature while you cook the rest.
- Top the dhal with some fresh coriander and fresh chilli to serve!
The great thing about this meal is that it actually contained a lot more nutrients- especially protein than a piece of meat (no surprises to us vegans there!) But, if you are cooking for some non-vegan friends of family and they are worried about ‘not getting enough protein’ then this is the perfect meal to cook for them. Take a look at this comparison: