Spicy vegetable dal


I eat spicy Indian food all year round, but in winter it really becomes comfort food. This spicy, vegetable laden dal is a great way to up your veggie intake and use up everything in the fridge, you won't be able to stop eating it.  Best of all, I make this version with no oil... so it's a good everyday guilt-free meal.

For four serves of dal, you will need:

1 cup of toor dal, moong dal or red lentils (most dals will do)

4-5 cups of water

1 red onion

2 tomatoes

1-2 green chillies

A selection of vegetables: I used zucchini, pumpkin, eggplant and silverbeet

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric

1 teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoons of tamarind paste, or the juice of at least one lemon

Fresh coriander to serve

Wash and rinse your dal well, and soak it in about 4 cups of water for half an hour to a few hours. Bring it to boil in a large pan, and once it is boiling, skim all the scum from the top and discard.

Have all your vegetables cut into large chunks, and add them now.  Add the cumin seeds, salt and turmeric, lower heat, cover and leave to simmer for about an hour.

This dal is done when everything is lovely and mashed up looking.  You can now blend it, or just mash any large pieces of vegetables up with a potato masher.  At this stage I like to put in some greens - silverbeet or spinach, and cook for another 10 minutes or so.  Taste the dal, add more salt if needed, and the tamarind or lots of lemon juice.

If you want to add a tarka, at this stage you can heat some ghee, fry some more onion till it is brown, garlic, curry leaves, mustard seeds and more cumin seeds, and add it to the dal.

Serve with lots of fresh coriander.  When I made this dal, I coated some Japanese eggplant in olive oil and salt and grilled it, then used it to garnish the dal... it was delicious.

If you're like me you will eat this all winter... sometimes I freeze portions and heat with a bit of extra liquid so I can drink it like soup.