This recipe is for Zuzia, because she asked for it! xx
If you haven't spent close to a year working on your signature dahl moves you need to take a real good look at your life choices.
I JEST. Some of us weren't cut to be lentil obsessives, I understand. What an under-roughaged life you must lead.
I started on the smoked dahl trail after trying Dishoom's black dahl before going vegan. It’s also been a bit of a bone of contention for a while that to make a curry really filling and rich, ghee seemed to be the only way. How to get that creamy, so-full-I-will-cry-on-the-walk-home (true story) feeling whilst keeping it vegan? There is a way.
This smoked dahl recipe is a mix of about four other dahl recipes I learnt in the run-up to Poppadom Preach, the vegan supper club I cooked for with three good friends earlier this summer. Even the day before the dinner we had to make a few last-minute changes to the dish as I couldn’t find the lentils I’d practised on a little in London over in Berlin. If that doesn’t sound stressful, I’ll rephrase. Heather and I were stood with four litres of oil, 10 bunches of coriander, a basket full of lettuce and no ingredient for our main course in the final supermarket we hadn’t tried, with two minutes before close. Scanning the aisles for something, anything, to buy that could complete our dahl dish, I remembered kidney beans actually make up the dal makhani I had been glancing over whilst perfecting a dal-in-general. We bought two ginormous tins, then on our way to the checkout found some brown lentils. Hallelujah. Dahl for all.
So the photos here don't include kidney beans, and if you'd rather not, just replace their amount with lentils, but it does add something extra to the flavour, perhaps a certain savouriness you only get with dahl when you're eating it the next day- something like that.
The THREE secret ingredients in this dahl are as follows:
💘 Hickory liquid smoke. You can find it in Wholefoods or some other specialist food-kinda-shops, or you can buy it on Amazon. I ordered mine to Berlin so I don’t wanna hear excuses about that being a faff. If you want a really great smoked flavour without having to use a charcoal fire to make this on, that’s the way.
💘 Soy yoghurt. This is instead of cream, and is the best way to add that dairy richness without using soy cream, which I find just thins things out too much.
💘 Coconut oil. Yeah, the big time. You don’t need much, but it’s the best thing I’ve found to replacing that hard-to-trace richness ghee provides. Mixed in with the soy yoghurt and liquid smoke, your dahl will go from average lentil greatness to other-worldly legume heights. Long term lentil lovers know what I mean- this is the dish of lentil converts. ‘Socks and sandals’ (etc etc) will be a far-gone insult if you get this dahl down.
Four hour smoked coconut dahl
Serves enough for six
n.b. I’ve used cups here because dahl is just really about getting the ratios right, and IMHO you don’t need scales to do that.
1 cups black or brown lentils
2 large tomatoes
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala or your fave curry powder
1 inch ginger, grated
4-5 garlic cloves, grated
1 medium onion chopped small
2 green chillies, chopped small
2 tbsp coconut oil
½ cup soaked kidney beans (usually tinned)
3 tbsp soy yoghurt
1 tsp liquid smoke
Salt and pepper to season
Lime juice and chopped mint or coriander to serve
Rinse the lentils in water and then pour into a saucepan, cover in water, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until they’re cooked through but not too mushy yet. Drain and set aside.
Blend the tomatoes and set aside. In large saucepan or wok, heat the sunflower oil and add in the dry spices, then add the chopped onion and stir through. Saute until the onions become fragrant with the spices and a light golden colour.
Add in the grated ginger and garlic, then a minute later add the chillies, and stir again so the flavours can mix. Then add the tomato puree and the coconut oil. Stir well and leave for a few minutes again for the flavours to develop.
Now pour in the lentils and kidney beans along with a cup of water to make sure nothing sticks.
You may need a little more water along the way- stir well on a medium heat and continue to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan for another fifteen- twenty minutes.
Once the dahl begins to thicken, add in the yoghurt and liquid smoke, then taste and add salt, pepper, lime juice, mint or coriander to your own preference.
When the dahl has thickened, there should be a little coconut oil on the surface. Take off the heat about five- ten minutes before serving and cover with a lid or clean tea towel so the curry can relax a little.
Serve with chopped mint or coriander and homemade naan if you really wanna go to lentil town.