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Tarka Dahl

September 5, 2010

Ingredients
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely or crushed
1″ fresh ginger chopped finely
1 fresh mild chili, chopped finely
2 medium, ripe tomatoes, diced
200g red lentils, rinsed
1/2l of liquid (combination of stock, water, a little wine)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
2″ stick of cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp groundnut oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander for garnish (optional)

For the tarka spices
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp dried, crushed chili (not ground. If you haven’t got it, leave it out or use fresh chili)
1 tbsp olive oil

Preparation
Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium flame. Add the chili, ginger, onion and garlic and fry gently. When the onion and garlic turns golden, stir in the liquid and add the lentils and bay leaf. Increase heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and add the remaining spices and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes. The lentils should break down and thicken the dahl to a consistency of a thick soup. You may need a little water to stir in if it gets too thick. When you are happy with the consistency, stir in the lemon juice and check for seasoning.

Heat a frying pan with the oil for the tarka spices over a medium-hot flame. Add the cumin, mustard and coriander seeds and stir until the mustard seeds start to pop. The spices should start to brown and become fragrant. Remove the frying pan from the heat and pour the tarka spices and the oil into the dahl. Stir the dahl to swirl the oil and spices in. Check for seasoning and serve as a side dish or with rice as a main dish. Garnish with fresh coriander if desired.

Variations
For a vegetable curry try adding a medium potato and a courgette, diced, and 1 tbsp tomato puree when adding the lentils and liquid. Throw in a handful of fresh, chopped spinach five minutes before you remove the dahl from the heat.

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