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Dhal with crisp cauliflower and rasam

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for dhal with crisp cauliflower and rasam.

By Alice Storey & Emma Knowles
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 2 hrs 15 mins cooking plus soaking
  • Serves 4 - 6
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Dhal with crisp cauliflower and rasam
Rasam is a sour, fragrant and refreshing broth that can be enjoyed on its own or served alongside a curry-style dish, as it is here.


  • 400 gm mung dhal (see note)
  • 20 gm ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 3 long green chillies, coarsely chopped
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 50 gm ghee
  • 4 golden shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp brown mustard seeds
  • 3 tsp ground turmeric
  • To serve: coriander sprigs and steamed basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 2 golden shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 2 small dried red chillies, coarsely crumbled
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tamarind purée, or to taste
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
Crisp cauliflower
  • 120 gm ghee
  • 3 golden shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 long green chillies, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 200 gm cauliflower, cut into florets
  • To taste: fresh curry leaves


  • 1
    Soak mung dhal in cold water for 1 hour, drain and transfer to a large saucepan. Add 2 litres cold water, bring to the boil over medium-high heat and skim any scum that rises to the surface.
  • 2
    Meanwhile, process ginger and chilli in a food processor to a coarse paste, add tomato and process to combine. Heat ghee in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add shallot and garlic, and sauté until tender and lightly caramelised (4-5 minutes). Add mustard seeds and turmeric, sauté until fragrant (1 minute), then add chilli mixture and sauté until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add to mung dhal, reduce heat to low-medium and simmer until mung dhal is very tender (1¼-1½ hours). Season to taste with sea salt, whisk to break up dhal and keep warm.
  • 3
    For rasam, heat ghee in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add shallots, mustard seeds and chilli, and sauté until lightly caramelised and seeds start to pop (6-8 minutes). Meanwhile, coarsely crush peppercorns and cumin seeds with a mortar and pestle. Add garlic and pound to combine, then add to the shallot mixture with tamarind purée, turmeric and 500ml water. Season to taste with salt. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse. Keep warm.
  • 4
    For crisp cauliflower, heat ghee in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add shallot, chilli and garlic, and sauté until tender (2-3 minutes). Add mustard seeds and cook until they begin to pop, then add cauliflower and sauté until crisp and golden (8-10 minutes). Add curry leaves, season to taste with salt and keep warm.
  • 5
    Serve dhal, topped with crisp cauliflower and scattered with coriander, with steamed rice and rasam.


Note Mung dhal (dried mung beans) is available from Indian grocers and select delicatessens.
Drink Suggestion: Coriander-scented wheat beer. Drink suggestion by Max Allen