Dhal is a thing of beauty. It's delicious and healthy, and can be eaten at any time of the day as part of a meal, or simply by itself.
Tempering is a technique used in South Asian cooking to add extra flavour: spices and other ingredients, such as chilli, onion and curry leaves, are dry-roasted or fried at the start of cooking, or are cooked separately and added to a dish at the end. The traditional method is to cook the lentils with minimal ingredients and then temper; tempering first, however, is less fuss, and only one pan is needed. For a more luxurious version, temper twice, as we've done for this recipe.
How to dial up your dhal
- This dhal can be made with coconut oil, ghee, or both.
- Dhal can be prepared with any lentil, with wildly different finished products (chana lentils, for example, result in quite a textured dhal). Cooking time and the amount of liquid needed will vary.
- In Sri Lanka, dhal is usually just one in an array of dishes that make up a meal alongside curry, rice, mallung and sambols, so it's often simply flavoured. If you do want to ramp up the flavour, fennel, cumin or coriander seeds can be added to the temper.
- This recipe can be thinned down with water or coconut milk according to taste; a thinner dhal with boiled eggs stirred through, and served with pol roti and pol sambol, makes a great breakfast dish.