Credit: Recipe republished with permission from Plant Feasts, by Frankie Paz (Nourish Books). Publication date: 9th April 2024. £25.00 Hardback. Photography copyright © Hannah Bodsworth 2024. Available to preorder now.


Frankie says: "Let’s face it, everyone loves a dhal. It’s a dish to be shared. I have been making this for years on retreats, for ceremonial supper clubs, for lovers, for friends and for my community. This is my go-to when funds are low but I want to 
entertain. I used to think that when times are hard, I should stay home alone. Of course that has a place, yet I always remember what an elder, Juan, said to me in Colombia. “You think we only come together to celebrate the joy. No, we celebrate and come together in all the moments, in pain and hardship too. In fact, that is more important because we remember that we are not alone and that we all have times of love and pain. There is connection in this. You have the plants and you have your community, and we can take strength from them both coming together. For all that happens on our journey reminds us to get out of the mind, smile and have a little compassion for others.

"This dish has many ancient herbs and spices that all tell a story. Red lentils are said to symbolize the circle of life, a reminder to stay humble and give thanks for what we have. With creamy coconut and a fresh tomato kick, this dish is comforting and so nourishing."

Serves 4 | Time: 1 hour

Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grated root ginger
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper (or more depending how spicy you like it)
  • 380g/13oz/2 cups dried red split lentils
  • 1 x 400g/14oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 400ml/14fl oz can of coconut milk
  • 825ml/28fl oz/3½ cups water
  • a large handful of coriander/cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 80g/2¾oz/1 cup spinach leaves, chopped 
  • juice of 1 lemon 
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes until the onion starts to soften. Add the ginger, garam masala, cumin, ground coriander, turmeric and cayenne. Keep an eye on the spices and keep stirring so they don’t burn.
  2. Add the lentils, then stir for a minute or so to make sure everything is well combined (this is to make the lentils really flavoursome). Add the canned tomatoes and coconut milk, stir, then add the water. Keep stirring so the lentils don’t stick to the bottom – this is the trick with dhal. Cook for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to low and cook for another 30 minutes, stirring often, until it is thick and creamy. Season with a large pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Add most of the fresh coriander, the spinach and lemon juice, then stir until the spinach has wilted. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if desired. Leave to stand for 10 minutes to allow the banging flavours to develop.
  4. Serve with the remaining fresh coriander scattered on top.

 

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