This is my ultimate everything-will-be-ok supper. Something I make when I’m feeling sad or scared or just a bit hopeless. It revives, it reassures. It’s aromatic, and sweet and sour from the tamarind, and it is comforting without being heavy and stodgy. It’s everything you need on a dreary almost-summer Tuesday evening.
It’s a dream to make. It can be left broadly to its own devices, and it cooks in the time it takes you to jump in the shower, out again, and into a pair of clean pyjamas. It’s pretty much slicing an onion, and then a token shove of a wooden spoon when you’re passing the pan, just to make sure it isn’t sticking. It is also incredibly low fat, low calorie, vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, and cheap.
Sometimes I griddle slabs or coins of courgette until they’re cross-hatched, sometimes I use a speed peeler to slice thin ribbons of the courgette and toss them quickly through a pan just before serving, and pile them up in a muddled heap. We’ve had it with pan fried fish perched on top, or served alongside other curries.; it’s gorgeous with smoky, charred aubergine. Sam likes this with rice, but honestly I prefer it alone, in a bowl, with just a spoon, and as much coriander as I can find.
It goes like this:
Tamarind lentil daal
Makes: 2 extremely generous portions (and probably leftovers for someone lucky)
Takes: 5 minutes
Bakes: 20 minutes
150g red lentils
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced into half moons (I prefer red onions, but any are fine)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Small thumb of ginger, grated, or a good squeeze of ginger paste
2 tsp curry powder
1.5 tsp turmeric
1.5 tbsp tamarind sauce (I use this one which is pretty widely available, but if you are using paste or concentrate then reduce the amount to about 1.5 tsp).
1. Place the lentils in a sieve and rinse them until the water runs clear.
2. Put the lentils in a pan with the turmeric and tamarind paste, a pinch of salt, and cover with 750 ml of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Whilst this is cooking, slice an onion and fry very gently in the oil for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook for another two minutes. Add the curry powder and cook for a final 2 minutes.
4. Add the onion mixture to the lentil mixture, mix, and cook for another 10 minutes.
5. Ta Dah!
[If you haven’t seen my new What’s For Supper? section before, you can see a little introduction and my first teriyaki mackerel and pickle veg post here]