The sunroom is my favourite room in the house, especially in winter. Golden rays of sun filter through the windows and make me feel like I myself am a glowing beam of sun. I notice a difference in how I feel when I sit in this room, I feel really good. And then I look at my plant children around me and I feel really happy. If they’re thriving from living in the sunroom then I must be thriving, too. I’m pretty glad about that, because I am about to turn another year older.
I’ve been on the hunt for the best dal recipe for years. I wanted one that had more depth to its flavour. The simple ones I had tried were too one dimensional in taste, while the complicated recipes were not worth my time. I was reading a recipe by J. Kenji López-Alt recently where he recommended roasting eggplant, removing the skin and blitzing it up to add to ramen. I wondered if it would work for dal so I gave it a shot. I wanted this dal to be really flavoursome so I decided to pierce the skin of the eggplant before roasting and stuffed it with garlic cloves.
Did it work? You bet it did.
Vegan dal | Hidden veg red lentil dal
1 1/2 cup red lentils, washed and soaked for 2 hours (if timing allows)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 litre filtered water
1 bay leaf
1/2 red onion, sliced
2 tbsp cumin seeds
6 curry leaves
1 eggplant, pierced and stuffed with 4-6 peeled garlic cloves then roasted for 1 to 1 1/2 hours
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp garam masala
Tip lentils into a medium saucepan. Cover with the water and add turmeric and bay leaf. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until the water has reduced and the lentils are soft.
After roasting the eggplant, remove its skin and mash the flesh in a bowl, ensuring the garlic is mashed and mixed well. Set aside.
Heat some oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and allow it to caramelise, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin seeds and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until fragrant then add curry leaves and stir for 1 minute.
Tip the onion mix into the saucepan of red lentils and stir. Add mashed eggplant, salt and garam masala and cook for a further 10 minutes. Season further if required.
Serve with brown rice, fresh herbs and tamarind chutney.