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Author Notes: 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. —Alannah | Kale Mary
- 1 1/2 cups red lentils, washed and soaked for 2 hours (if time allows)
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 liter filtered water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 red onion, sliced
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 6 curry leaves
- 1 eggplant, pierced and stuffed with 4-6 peeled garlic cloves then roasted for 1-1 1/2 hours
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon 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.