In the 1990s, we used to live in India and I developed a real taste for all sorts of lentil and pulse based dishes, and I still like them today. My ‘go to’ favourite has to be tarka dal because it’s relatively quick and easy and you can throw in whatever vegetables you have in the fridge. It’s definitely one of those meals that’s useful at the end of the week when you want to use things up. A slightly soft courgette or a bendy carrot languishing in the vegetable rack undergoes a complete transformation once immersed in a spicy lentil base.
This recipe is a real feast for the eyes as the colours jump out at you. Red peppers, courgettes, aubergines, onions and spinach – this is what ‘eating a rainbow’ is all about. Even better, this recipe is fat-free and therefore ideal for anyone on a diet. For Slimming World members, it’s all *free food* based around protein (lentils) and speed food (the vegetables).
Purists may say that my version of tarka dal isn’t truly authentic and they may be right. However, it’s a recipe I’ve adapted to suit my taste – not too ‘chilli’ hot but with lots of flavour. I think it tastes amazing and with any recipe, isn’t that what matters?
Recipe serves 4 – 6 people.
350g split, dried red lentils, washed and drained
2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 onion, sliced
4 plump cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
I medium courgette, aubergine, red pepper – all cut into bite-sized chunks
FryLight low calorie cooking spray
150g fresh spinach leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsps black mustard seeds
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsps ground coriander
1 tsp jalapeno red chilli flakes – add more if you like your dal with more heat
Spray a large non-stick pan with Frylight and add the garlic, onions, courgette, aubergine and red pepper and cook on a relatively high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Put pan to one side.
In another large pan, add the lentils, turmeric and ginger to 1 ½ litres of water and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Skim off any froth as it appears. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring every so often.
Add the cooked vegetables to the lentil mixture along with the fresh spinach and stir together. Simmer for 10 more minutes to ensure everything is cooked through and the spinach has wilted.
While the lentil mix is cooking, take a small non-stick frying pan, spray with FryLight and allow to heat up. Once the pan is hot, add the cumin seeds and the black mustard seeds. After a short while on a high heat, they’ll start to pop and splutter in the pan. At that point, add the garam masala, ground cumin, ground coriander and jalapeno flakes and stir for about a minute.
Add the spices into the lentil and vegetable mixture and stir them in. Add salt and pepper to taste and the dish is ready to eat.