My track record with lentils hasn't been good so far this year. My attempt to recreate Nigel Slater's beetroot, lentils and garam masala did not turn out quite as anticipated and this evening's effort similarly fell wide of the mark when it comes to following the instructions.
I'd come across a relatively easy recipe on Olive Magazine's website; Brigadier house dal. But it would need some slight modification to suit the children. Specifically I decided to leave out the chillies. And while lentils are made up of over 25% protein, I was also keen to include a source of omega-3 fatty acids, so where I took out the chillies, I added in king prawns. In effect, not too many changes and not a lot that could go wrong.
On reading the recipe carefully before starting, I was perplexed that a dish destined to serve four only included 125g of lentils. Given I was a bit baffled you'd think I'd pour over the ingredient list to satisfy myself this was correct. I did! Content I hadn't missed anything, I doubled the quantities of everything. I was then taken aback mid-way through stage two to noticed that the recipe also called for 125g of red lentils. I worried that my pan with the right volume of lentils (albeit just yellow) but twice the amount of water, ghee and spices would be too fatty and taste overwhelmingly heavy on the spice front.
After I'd drained off the excess of water, my first inclination was to keep my ineptitude to myself and just run with it on the table. But I came clean before I set down the plates. And in fact, it tasted just fine. My daughter in particular loved it. The prawns complemented the dahl and everyone felt replete afterwards.
NB. This recipe introduced me to cooking with ghee. Now I'm a convert. It gave the dahl a sweeter, creamier taste than I was expecting. I'll be searching out other recipes that use it - so plenty of Indian dishes to come.