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Back to basics - Getting centred with lentils after rich holiday feasting

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As for my theory that lentils make you feel good, Naresh agrees. “After eating dal, you feel very contented for a few hours,” he says.

That alone is reason enough to cook with lentils. But this recipe from the Chunky Cook Book delivers more — it’s fast and easy to prepare and it’s so fragrant and delicious, it will have you wandering to the fridge at midnight to sample any leftovers.

Dal with coconut (from India)

from Vegetarian Main Dishes from Around the World

1 cup red lentils (if using dal other than red lentils, soak them first for 15 minutes then cook them until they are just ready)

2 1/2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped coarsely

1/2 onion, chopped

3 tablespoons dried or desiccated coconut

1 tablespoon butter

Salt to taste

Put the lentils or other dal in a pan and add the water. Bring to a boil and remove any froth that rises to the surface. Add the turmeric, ginger, onion, salt and simmer together for 10 minutes or until the dal is almost done. The water should be almost completely absorbed. Season to taste. In a separate pan melt the butter and stir in the coconut. Cook it gently, stirring, until the coconut turns a rich brown color. When the dal is ready, spoon it into a serving dish and sprinkle the hot coconut over it.

Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning freelance writer who has just discovered the joy of French green lentils.