Updated: Apr 23, 2018
This Indian inspired lentil purée is ready in half an hour, and the aromatic herby topping is easily made while the lentils cook and provides plenty of texture and vivacity. If you like a bit of heat and spice, use Madras curry paste; tikka or korma curry paste will produce a gentle, mellow dhal.
HOT SWEET COCONUT DHAL
30 ml/2 tbsp coconut oil
200 g/7 oz onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 red and1green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced (or leave the seeds in if you want plenty of heat)
50 g/2 oz fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/2 lemon, scrubbed and coarsely chopped
30 ml/2 tbsp curry paste (see above)
15 ml/1 tbsp whole green cardamoms
200 g/7 oz split red lentils, rinsed
100 g/4 oz solid coconut cream
30 g/1 oz toasted cashew nuts, very coarsely chopped
Seeds from 1 small pomegranate
100 g/4 oz red onions, peeled and finely chopped
15 ml/1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted in a dry frying pan and coarsely ground
30 ml/2 tbsp olive oil
15 ml/1 tbsp fresh lime juice
5 ml/1 tsp pomegranate molasses
15 g/1/2 oz fresh coriander, coarsely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the coconut oil in a heavy saucepan and add the onions, chillies, ginger and 2 garlic cloves. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are softened.
Add the chopped lemon, curry paste and cardamom pods, and cook for a further 2 or 3 minutes.
Stir in the lentils and enough water to cover them by 3 cm/1 ¼ in and bring to the boil. Turn the heat right down, cover the pan and simmer until the lentils have broken down and you have a thick, soft purée – about 40 minutes.
Add the coconut cream and some salt and pepper, and stir until the coconut has melted. Check the seasoning.
When the lentils are ready, assemble the topping by mixing all the remaining ingredients in a bowl and stirring in some seasoning.
Ladle the dhal into two warm bowls, spoon the topping over it and serve immediately.