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Dan and I are both rather partial to lentils. He says it reminds him of our honeymoon in the Maldives, as very randomly, it was always on offer as part of the breakfast buffet. I never could get my head around it, they just didn’t sit quite right with my freshly made cheese and mushroom omelette…but Dan always had a helping on the side. I think that was him ’embracing’ the culture and cuisine! Fair play to him. So, the inspiration for making this dish comes from that ingrained and sacred memory.

‘Mung Dal with Chicken’ or ‘Dal Gosht’ comes from Madhur Jaffrey’s ‘Ultimate Curry Bible’. This is the fourth meal that we have recreated from her wonderful book and comes highly recommended.

To make our version of this curry you will need (serves two):
– Three tablespoons of sunflower oil
– 200g of mung dal (washed well and drained)
– 500g of chicken thighs (skinned/boneless)
– One large shallot (finely sliced)
– Five garlic cloves (peeled/chopped)
– Three inch purge of ginger (peeled/chopped)
– One and a half teaspoons of cayenne pepper
– One teaspoon of ground turmeric
– Two teaspoons of salt
– One medium tomato (peeled/finely chopped)
– One fresh green chilli (split in half)
– One teaspoon of garam masala
– Half a teaspoon of whole cumin seeds

Method:
– Boil a full kettle and keep it handy.
– Put the mung dal into a dish with a lid and add 670ml of water. Bring to the boil. Skim and partially cover, then leave to simmer for around twenty minutes before setting aside.
– Put the garlic and ginger into a blender with four tablespoons of water and mix until smooth.
– Mix the turmeric, salt and cayenne pepper together in a cup with two tablespoons of water to make a paste.
– Add the oil to a large stove pot (with a lid) on a medium heat. Stir fry the shallots until medium brown, then add in the garlic/ginger paste. Stir for two minutes.
– Pour in 250ml of boiling water and cook/stir until the sauce thickens and appears golden. Add in the turmeric mixture and stir fry for a minute. Pour in another 50ml of hot water.
– Stir to a thick paste and then add the tomatoes. Stir fry for another minute before adding another 50ml of hot water, and stirring until the tomato becomes a paste.
– Add the green chilli, cumin seeds and garam masala along with another 50ml of hot water, stirring until thickened.
– Now the chicken goes into the pan. Cook for five minutes, then cover and reduce the heat to low, cooking for a further five minutes.
– Remove the lid and cook/stir uncovered on a medium high heat for five minutes.
– Add in the cooked dal with 175ml of water and bring to the boil. Cover once again, reducing the heat back to low, and gently cook for a final twenty five minutes.
– Serve immediately.

This is a very fulfilling curry, and any lover of lentils will surely enjoy it’s spicy yet creamy flavour. As we ate our way through, it really did feel as if the plate would never clear (a welcome change to feeling like it’s going down too quickly!) We served ours with basmati rice, a kachumber salad and a paratha (plus a little chilli jam on the side – it certainly benefits from a little accompanying pickle of some sort). Another winner from a (now well used) tremendous curry book!

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