Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

It’s dahl-icious!

So many of my dishes have begun recently with the same beginning: Chopped onion, chopped chilli pepper and chopped garlic. Mostly though, the end product is spicy bean stew or pasta sauce or an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink chow mein. This dish though, split yellow pea dahl, is only an infrequent visitor to my kitchen, maybe because it’s one of my semi-habitual nods to healthiness.

Still, healthy or not, this spiced, fragrant and heady dahl is nonetheless very satisfying. This very fact was brought home to me recently when I fired up a batch for four people and proceeded to eat three helpings, with lots of crisped up pittas, halved and split into triangles. I had no naan bread at the time you see, but I soon discovered pittas make a very decent substitute. Wholemeal versions also add to the whole healthiness aspect, if you’re counting, which I am.

However, I wasn’t feeling the best after those three heaped portions (topped with lots of chopped tomatoes and coriander) and thus the healthiness was a mite negated by my own gulosity. This seems to be a trend, as I rediscover new things; like that time I made scones for the first time in about two years and again, in this instance, ate three on the bounce. Will I ever learn? No, no I won’t.

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As I write this, the plan for this evening is another pot of this punchy pottage from the sub-continent. However, I should point out for the purists among us, this is my own cheaty version of split yellow pea dahl. Shock! Let me explain…

The little humans in our house tend to eat a lot of chicken korma. It’s a great introduction to the world of curry but as yet, we’ve yet to get past the intro stage. That means no lamb bhuna for yours truly. However it also means that there is normally korma paste in the house in one guise or another. Can you see where this is going? Correct. This split yellow pea dahl is my bastardised korma version of the vegetarian staple and me and my tastebuds can confirm that it’s mighty stuff (see aforementioned comment re three portions).

I never thought I’d hear myself say this but because the peas and spices are so satisfying, you don’t even miss the meat. Shock!

INGREDIENTS

• 400g of dried split yellow peas (soaked over night in lots of water)

• 2 tbsps of ghee or vegetable oil

• 1 red onion, finely chopped

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• 1 red chilli pepper, finely chopped

• 2 cloves of garlic, chopped

• thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped

• 1 heaped tbsp of korma paste (as much as you can get on the spoon)

• 1 litre of vegetable or chicken stock

• half a can of coconut milk

• seasoning

• lots of chopped cherry tomatoes

• lots of chopped coriander

THE PLAN

Your cook time will be lessened significantly if you soak the peas overnight. After this, rinse until the water runs clear.

Start by adding the oil to a sauce pan and sweat the onions, chilli and garlic over a medium heat until softened. Add the ginger and stir fry for another minute.

Add the korma paste and fry this off for a minute, then dump in the peas and stock and bring to a simmer.

Let this rip for about 45 minutes, checking and stirring every now and again, so make sure it doesn’t go too dry. It’ll stick if it does.

When the peas are tender (this could take upwards of an hour), bubble off most of the liquid that’s left and then add the coconut milk; the consistency you want is one of a thick soup. Check the seasoning and it’s done.

Ladle into bowls and top those with the tomatoes and chopped coriander, as in the pic above.

Now all you have to do is resist eating the whole lot and feeling like a complete starvo for the rest of the night.

Good luck with that!

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