This rich, creamy, spicy dal, topped with a roasted cabbage wedge that has been coated in fruity, sour tamarind paste has become a midweek staple in our house. It’s quick, nutritious and extremely tasty.
Dal, ubiquitous in India, is prepared in various different ways with various ingredients.
Use any cabbage here: savoy, January King, white, red…
Curry leaves are a beautiful aromatic that are hard to replace. They can be found in Asian supermarkets. However, if you can’t find fresh leaves, frozen or dried will suffice. This dish will still taste nice without the curry leaves, but it will taste amazing with them!
Another interesting ingredient is tamarind paste. The tamarind fruit grows on trees in tropical regions and is used a lot in Asian, African and South American cooking. Its addition to food adds a fruity, sweet, sour dimension.
The cooking method to increase flavour
The complex flavours in this dish is not only due to the combination of ingredients – it’s also due to the cooking method. For example, allowing onions to get really dark brown (just before burning) develops sweet caramel flavours. People rarely have the patience to wait for the onions to go this brown – but I promise – it is really worthwhile. One trick is to use more oil than you normally would and to cook on a high heat. Chopping the onions small so they have a bigger surface area to brown also results in more flavour.
Continue the high heat to cook the chopped tomatoes. Stir them a lot so more have contact with the bottom of the pan. The tomatoes are cooked when they are no longer red – they should caramelise to brown – developing delicious flavours along the way.
Roasting cabbage is my favourite way of cooking it. Coating it in tamarind paste first just adds a lovely dimension to it, and it just pairs so well with the dal.
Curried lentils with tamarind roasted cabbage
- pastry brush
- wooden spoon
- ½ – 1 cabbage
- 1 tbsp tamarind paste
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 15 – 20 curry leaves
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1 tbsp ginger ginger
- 1 tbsp garlic pressed
- 1½ tsp chilli flakes
- ½ tsp tumeric
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 400 g chopped tomatoes
- 250 g split red lentils
- 2 tbsp tamarind paste
- 800 ml water or stock (two fills of the tomato can)
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and cut it into quarters or eigths depending on the size. Place the sections on a baking tray and drizzel with oil and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.½ – 1 cabbage
- Meanwhile, heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan on a high heat and add finely chopped onion. Cook until the onion is dark brown, but not burnt.3 tbsp olive oil, 1 onion
- Add the curry leaves, garlic and ginger and fry for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the spices and stir well. If the spices get stuck to the bottom of the pan, quickly add the chopped tomatoes. Keep the heat high. Stir frequently until the tomato is no longer red in colour, but brown. This deepening of colour means caramelisation has taken place, which results in deepening of flavour.15 – 20 curry leaves, 1 tbsp ginger, 1 tbsp garlic, 1½ tsp chilli flakes, ½ tsp tumeric, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, ½ tsp ground black pepper, 400 g chopped tomatoes
- Once the tomatoes are brown, add the lentils with water or stock (if adding water additional salt will be required), and 2 tbsp of tamarind paste and cook until the lentils have a mushy consistency. If you like lentils a little thinner, add more water.250 g split red lentils, 800 ml water or stock, 2 tbsp tamarind paste
- After the cabbage has been in the oven for 20 minutes, mix 1 tbsp of tamarind paste and 1 tbsp olive oil, stir and brush this mixture on to the cabbage. Let it cook in the oven for another 10 minutes.1 tbsp tamarind paste, 1 tbsp olive oil
- Serve a cabbage wedge on top of the curried lentils. Enjoy!