Coconut lentil dal with crispy cockles
You can use tinned or dry lentils to make this versatile dal, enriched with coconut milk.
For the coconut lentil dal
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 knob fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 celery sticks, chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tsp curry powder (or any other Indian spices such as cumin, ground coriander or chilli powder)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 150g/5oz green lentils from a tin, drained, divided
- 100g/3½oz red lentils
- 400ml/14fl oz coconut milk (or use ¼ block coconut cream, melted in 200ml/7fl oz boiling water)
For the garnish
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- pinch dried chilli flakes, to garnish
- pinch coriander seeds, toasted and lightly crushed, to garnish (optional)
- pinch cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed, to garnish (optional)
- few coriander leaves, to garnish (optional)
For the crispy cockles (optional)
To make the dal, set aside 2 tablespoons of the green lentils for garnish. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the ginger, celery, carrot, curry powder and paprika and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the tomato, lentils and coconut milk with 100ml/3½fl oz water. Simmer for 30–40 minutes until thick and everything is cooked through.
To make the crispy cockles, preheat a deep fat fryer to 180C. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.) Place the polenta in a deep wide bowl and season with salt and pepper. Toss the cockles in the polenta and place in the deep fat fryer for 1–2 minutes. Transfer to kitchen paper to drain and season with salt and pepper.
To make the garnish, heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the reserved lentils, chilli flakes, coriander seeds and cumin seeds for 2 minutes. Place the dal into two warmed bowls and top with the cockles. Finish with the fried lentils and spices and the coriander leaves.