When I first arrived in Australia – NINE YEARS ago last Saturday! – I spent time in the lovely, sometimes sleepy, somewhat provincial Port Stephens (a small coastal resort towns north of Sydney). When I went to the local bowling club and RSL for beers with mates, and in shops, my money was taken with a hearty “thanks Dhal!” by the lovely Aussie ladies (of all ages, I have had this from 9 to 90 year olds).
It took me months to work out that they were not in fact calling me “Doll” (which I did think was a little weird, but then many things seemed a little weird) but saying “Darl’ ” – the ubiquitous oz-abbreviation of Darling, of course. If you are Aussie you are now shaking your head and saying “der!”, if you are not Aussie, and would like to see just what I’m talking about, see The Castle.
Anyway, in commemoration of my 9th year in Australia (I’m naturalised, too!), here is some Dhal, with a heart shaped dollop of yogurt on top.
I was re-inspired about dhal when I chanced on Peter Singer cooking it on on Talking Heads, but I don’t usually add coconut cream, because I find pulses get creamy enough on their own, thank you.
and, I’m a ‘chuck it all in at once’ kind of girl, but, you know, feel free to follow Peter if you think his version is better, but here’s mine:
In a pot or deep frying pan saute a chopped onion and several crushed/chopped garlic cloves in a little oil over a medium heat. Add spices – ground cumin, a little cinnamon, a couple of bay leaves, some panch phora. think Indian, earthy. Add red lentils, maybe 1 cup. Add quite a bit of water (maybe twice the measure of the lentils), to well cover the lentils. while that is coming up to temperature, roughly dice a few tomatoes and toss into the pan.
Stir, lower heat and keep an eye on it, as the lentils can dry out and goddamn, burnt lentils are hard to get off the bottom of the pot. add water as needed, they’ll take around 20 mins, and are ready when the lentils have melted into a sludge and the consistency is to your liking – add water or continue cooking to reach the level ‘sloppyness’ you prefer – at which point you can add chopped spinach, chopped fresh coriander, as these don’t require more than a heating through. Serve as part of a curry smörgåsbord (yep, getting really transnational now!) or with rice, a splodge of yogurt, a sprinkling of coriander leaves and some flatbread. Or forget all those accompaniments, just get a bowlful of lentil hit, but the yogurt is still strongly recommended. This will provide 2 large main meal servings.
This is also a ridiculously cheap meal. A kilo of red lentils should set you back maybe $3-4 tops. you use maybe 20c worth of lentils for 2 people (admittedly I have not worked this out this is a blatant guesstimate), plus whatever an onion and some garlic cost, and you can buy the squishy on-sale tomatoes, as they’re being cooked down.
SO CHEAP!!!! I am also adding a new ‘cheap eats!!’ category to the puku, in honour of this 50c meal, and in the spirit of being a poor student/saving money for fun things. more *so cheap!!* meals to come! xxx