Dhal with Coconut and Almond Tadka

Smokey Cauliflower and Quinoa Bowl-9055.jpg

You’ve just got to love dhal! It’s so healthy, delicious and easy to make. This dhal recipe is adapted from my book Bowls of Goodness. The tadka is from another recipe in the book -The Royal Korma, just slightly altered to fit this dhal. It’s a creamy lentil soup with many of my favourite comfort flavours such a toasted coconut, almonds, ginger, cinnamon, cumin.

Dhal means soup in Sanskrit and is one Indias most casual and budget-friendly meals. The first rule of making dhal is to allow sufficient time for simmering legumes into a creamy soup, the longer they have to break down, the silkier the dhal. Pre-soaking helps the softening process. 

This dhal has just two ingredients, lentils, and water. The tadka is easy to make and don’t be discouraged by the long list of ingredients it uses, most of the ingredients listed are spices you probably have in your spice rack already, and if not, you can be flexible and substitute or delete spices as you like. If you don’t have cardamom at home, use more of the cinnamon instead, etc. No green chili peppers? Use a teaspoon of Sriracha or hot sauce. That’s how I cook mostly.

This dhal is easily made vegan. I used ghee for frying the tadka, ghee is clarified butter that’s popular in Indian and Ayurvedic cooking. It adds an extra deep flavour and boosts the spices. To make it this dhal wholly vegan use plant-based butter or oil instead of ghee, and use a plant-based yogurt used in the salad.

I eat this with big serving leafy greens, brown rice and a salad of apple, cucumber, and carrot. Balancing the meal with a creamy texture and nutritional goodness.

If you like to make the original cauliflower Royal Korma or my Dhal Tadka from Bowls of Goodness, you’ll find the book here together with plenty of other flavours and a bounty of nourishing recipes.

Dhal with Coconut and almond Tadka

serves 4-6 people
(recipe from Bowls of Goodness)
450 ml red lentils or yellow split peas, or mungbeans, soaked and drained if you have the time
1400 ml water

Coconut and almond tadka
(adapted from the Royal Korma recipe in Bowls of Goodness)
2 garlic cloves crushed into 1 teaspoon salt
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 or 2 green chili peppers, finely chopped
a handful of f coriander finely chopped
1 teaspoon lime juice (can be substituted with lemon or white vinegar)
1 teaspoon grated ginger, freshly grated 
1 handful toasted almonds, ground fine
2 handfuls toasted desiccated coconut (toast in a dry pan over low heat for 30-60 seconds until golden brown)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 tsp coconut sugar or brown sugar
pinch of black pepper

A tablespoon of ghee or vegan butter or vegetable oil for frying
(optional) extra ghee or toasted sesame oil for the finish

to serve:
Apple, carrot and cucumber salad with yogurt
1 apple, cut fine or julienned
10 cm cucumber, cut fine
1 medium sized carrot ( I used a purple heirloom variety but you can use a regular orange carrot), cut fine
100 ml yoghurt, dairy or plant based variety
A drizzle of rice vinegar

Green leaves
Fresh herbs like coriander
Sprinkles of the curry the coconut and almond tadka 
Brown rice or millet

Put the lentils into a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Cook the lentils for 35 to 50 minutes (remember - the longer, the creamier).

While the lentils are cooking make the tadka. Mix the ingredients together in a bowl. Heat a large skillet over low heat and add ghee or plant-based frying fat. Add the spice and nut mixture and temper for 1-2 minutes while staring to avoid burning. Set a few spoons of the spice mixture aside for decoration and mix the rest in a food processor or with a pestle and mortar into a smooth paste.

Mix the salad ingredients together and set aside.

When the lentils start to look drier, stir to avoid burning and add small amounts of water to keep it creamy and not dry up too much. When the lentils have dissolved into a delicious creaminess, stir in the tadka. Taste and adjust with salt, lime juice, and pepper. Do you want to make it more indulgent and creamy, mix in a small amount of ghee or toasted sesame oil. Serve with brown rice, a tangy salad like the apple cucumber and carrot salad above, sprinkle the reserved tadka over the bowls for a lovely texture.

Make it vegan: Use plant-based oil our butter instead of ghee. This recipe is gluten-free.

Make it vegan: Use plant based oil our butter instead of ghee.
This recipe is gluten free.