I don’t know about you, but as soon as the days and nights turn to chill, I dive deep into my closet for my ugg boots, pull out my thick woven wrap around cardi, warm up my heat bag and snuggle under the woollen blanket on the couch.
My body also yearns for warmer foods and cooking over bubbling pots, and this dish is complete comfort warming goodness in a bowl (which is even better the next day!).
I first ate a tamarind dahl when it was cooked for me by my friend’s Sri Lankan mother and I’ve never forgotten it. The tang of the tamarind balanced by the warm spices, is soothing and energising, and it’s uncomplicated to make.
This is a nutrient-dense dish, rich in protein, zinc and iron from the lentils and spinach with Vitamins K and B6 as well as anti-inflammatories in the ginger and turmeric.
And it’s a super tummy-friendly dish! To make it even more tummy-friendly you can soak the lentils for up to 7 hours before using them in water with a dash of apple cider vinegar. This will make the lentils easier for the tummy to absorb and unlock more of their wonderful nutrients.
- 400g red or yellow split lentils
- 1 litre of vegetable stock or chicken bone broth
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil or ghee or cooking fat of choice
- 1 onion diced
- 1 small piece of ginger, grated
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 8 curry leaves
- 1 tsp of chilli powder or flakes
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 carrot grated
- 1 tomato chopped
- 300g frozen spinach (organic if you can!)
- 2.5 Tbsp tamarind paste (found in the Indian section of the supermarket isle)
- 1 tin coconut cream
- Sea salt to taste
- Rinse the lentils well under running water until the water runs clear.
- Place lentils in a large pot with the stock or broth and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer steadily with the lid on while you prepare the rest of the dish (leave a gap for some steam to escape).
- In another pot or large frypan, heat up the coconut oil. Add the onion and let it brown, stirring. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté.
- Add both cumin seeds and ground cumin, coriander, fennel seeds, curry leaves, chilli, turmeric and black pepper. Stir fry them for a few seconds, then add the tomato and carrot. Allow them to sauté until they are soft.
- Add the frozen spinach to the pot with the lentils and let it thaw out and cook.
- When the pan with the spices is done and ready, add to the pot of lentils. Add the coconut cream. Stir to combine and bring to boil, then reduce heat.
- Add the tamarind paste and season to taste.
- Enjoy on its own as a soup, with butter stirred in, topped with yoghurt (coconut yoghurt is wonderful with it!) and coriander, or serve with rice, bread or with other curries as part of an Indian feast!