Do you have a dish in your repertoire that instantly warms and satisfies in the winter months…well this is mine. Coconut & Spinach Dhal: yellow split peas, green or brown lentils, coconut milk, plenty of aromatic spices and heaps of fresh spinach. A dish that only improves the next day.
I like to use yellow split peas in this dish because they break down and thicken the dhal and green or brown lentils for a little texture. Soaking the peas will help cut down the overall cooking time however, the older the peas are, the longer they will take to cook. Frying the spices in oil in the first instance will release maximum flavour and enhance the finished dish. For me spinach and coconut go hand-in-hand that said sautéed mushrooms would be a great alternative.
Homemade chapatis could not be simpler to make, all you need is wholemeal plain flour, warm water and a little salt…
Place 200g plain wholemeal flour and ½ tsp salt in a deep bowl. Fill a jug with 200ml of warm water. Add the water to the bowl of flour, a little at a time, kneading as you go, until you have a soft, elastic dough. The more you knead the softer the chapatis will be.
Sprinkle a little extra flour onto your work surface. Divide the dough into 6 and shape each piece into a ball. Flatten the balls a little, then place one onto the floured surface. Roll out into a flat disc, adding extra flour if necessary.
Heat a shallow heavy based frying pan. Carefully place the chapati in the pan and cook for about 20-30 seconds or until the surface is bubbling. Turn it over and cook the other side for 10-15 seconds. As soon as brown spots appear on the underside, the chapati is done. Remove and wrap in a clean tea towel to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining dough. Brush them with a little melted dairy or plant based butter when you’re ready to serve.
This Coconut and Spinach Dhal is also delicious served with fluffy white or wholegrain rice, the choice is your’s.
Coconut & Spinach Dhal
- 100 g yellow split peas soaked in water for several hours or overnight
- 100 g green or brown lentils rinsed
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 3 tbls sunflower oil
- 3 cloves garlic finely sliced
- 1 tbls minced ginger heaped
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 2 whole dried red chillis or 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 ½ tsp garam masala
- 2 curry leaves
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 400 ml tin coconut milk
- 200 g fresh spinach washed
- 1 fresh red chilli sliced
- 1 small fresh coriander
- 50 ml sunflower oil
- ½ medium onion sliced finely
- Begin with draining the yellow split peas and place in a pan with plenty of cold water, bring to a boil and then simmer for 25-30 minutes or until semi-soft. Drain, set to one side.
- In a medium saucepan heat the sunflower oil, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds, fry on a medium heat until the cumin becomes fragrant and the mustard seeds begin to pop. Add the onions and sauté for 5-7 minutes on medium-low heat with the lid on. Now add the turmeric, coriander, garam masala, dried chillis, curry leaves, garlic and ginger. Cook for several minutes. Next add the drained split peas and the rinsed lentils. Then add the coconut milk and 750ml water and add the salt. Stir and bring to a boil, then simmer, now place the lid on. Cooking time can take 30-50 minutes.
- Check the lentils are soft and cooked through, then add the fresh spinach, stir and place the lid back on and cook for several minutes so that the spinach wilts.
- Crispy onion; add the sunflower oil to a medium saucepan and on a high heat add the onions. Have a plate ready lined with kitchen paper. Cook the onions until they are golden and crisp, remove with a slotted spoon and place on the kitchen paper.
- Spoon the dhal into bowls, top with red chilli, coriander and crispy onions. Serve with chapatis or rice.
- if you don’t want to use yellow split peas you can substitute with red lentils. Just rinse and no need to boil in water prior to cooking the dhal.
- here is a recipe for a Sri Lankan Dhal