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Winter Lentil Stew - Dhal Recipe

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by Debbie Lustig (subscribe)
My work has been published in The Age, The Herald-Sun, The Australian, The Big Issue, Australian Birdlife, The Bark (USA), Eureka Street, Overland and The Australian Jewish News.
Published June 27th 2012
Dhal with eggplant and tomato
Dhal is a filling, warming stew made from lentils. Originating on the Indian subcontinent, the many kinds of dhal (also spelled 'dahl' or 'dal') have around 25 per cent protein by weight, which is comparable to meat.

For this recipe, any kind will do, for example brown or French ('puy') lentils, but it's best with red lentils, as they're quick and dissolve into a porridge easily.

Don't be put off by the list of spices; guessing quantities won't change it much. Some chilli flakes or cayenne will give this more kick. Taste as you go and remember, you can always add more spices but you can't remove them once they're in the pot.

Ingredients

2 cups lentils
1 brown onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2-1 teaspoon crushed ginger
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 cups stock and/or water
1 tomato, chopped
1 eggplant, chopped
Salt

Method

In a heavy-bottomed large saucepan, cook onion in oil or ghee for 5 minutes, stirring. Add garlic and ginger. Stir.

Add tomato paste, seeds and ground cumin (and chilli or cayenne if using).

Add lentils and stock, bring to boil.

Simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring now and then.

Add chopped tomato and eggplant and cook 15 more minutes or until cooked. The texture should be thick and soupy.

Season with salt to taste.

Add hard-boiled eggs if desired - one for each person - and heat til warmed through.

Serve with rice, condiments and a vegetable curry.
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Why? Lentils taste great in dhal
When: Any time
Where: Your kitchen
Cost: About $1 per serve
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