Red lentils (dhal) with coconut milk Sri Lankan style

Ingredients
200 g red lentils
¼ tsp turmeric
2 cups water
1 tblsp vegetable oil
¼ tsp black mustard seeds
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
¼ tsp cumin seeds
½ onion finely chopped
2 whole dried red chillies, broken into pieces
few curry leaves, dried is also fine if you can’t find fresh but at a push you can leave this out
¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk – shake the can well so that all the really thick milk gets well mixed with the watery liquid

Method
Wash lentils thoroughly then put in a large saucepan and add water and turmeric, bring to the boil then let it simmer on a medium heat for about 15 mins. Be careful and keep and eye on it as dhal tends to boil over, if you leave a wooden spoon in the pot it helps prevent this. Once the dhal is cooked, it will turn yellow in colour and will have a nice mushy consistency. Add the broken pieces of dried red chillies. Add salt to taste and the coconut milk and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.

Take a small frying pan and heat the oil, then fry the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds. Once it gets nice and fragrant add the onions and curry leaves (if using). When the onions caramalise add this mixture to the cooked dhal and cook over a low heat for another 5 minutes. Taste the dhal, if it’s too spicy or too thin in consistency you can add a little more of the thick coconut milk and simmer for a little longer. If it’s not spicy enough then you can add 1/2 – 1 tsp of chilli powder and then cook for a little longer. The dhal is ready for serving when it is lovely and thick, serve with chapatis or naan bread if you prefer, you can buy both in the supermarkets or make yourself!

 

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