This is without doubt the tastiest recipe I’ve cooked so far from either of The Happy Pear’s cookbooks. It’s incredibly easy to make and doesn’t take long to cook, but it is so rewarding in flavour. It’s packed full of rich coconut and works really well with the vegetables they’ve suggested.
Puy lentils are little French greeny-slate blue coloured pulses which are only grown in the Le Puy region of France. They’re considered to be the king of all lentils because they have a unique delicate nutty, peppery flavour.
The beauty of using Puy lentils is that they keep their shape upon cooking so, unlike a normal Indian red lentil dahl which pulps down into a paste upon cooking, the Puy lentils retain their body and unique texture. You can buy Puy lentils from most supermarkets now. I’m particularly fond of Merchant Gourmet’s lentils because I think they have a really good nutty taste, but any Puy lentil will do.
Yes, I’ll admit the ingredients list for this dish is long, but if you enjoy good hearty richly-flavoured curries, vegetarian food, or coconut I’d encourage you to give this recipe a go because it’s truly outstanding. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 butternut squash (peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces)
3 large potatoes (peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces)
1 leek or 1 onion (finely chopped)
400g Puy lentils (or other green or brown lentils)
2 tbsps. oil
1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 ½ tsps. of salt
6 tbsps. of soy sauce
The juice of 1 lemon
1 head of pak choi (cut into bite-sized pieces)
150g cherry tomatoes or 2 normal tomatoes (cut into bite-sized pieces)
2 ½ tbsps. ground coriander
2 ½ tbsps. ground cumin
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 tsps. ground turmeric
2 tsps. ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsps. curry powder
1 tsp paprika (not smoked!)
A pinch of chilli powder or 1/3 tsp of chilli flakes
Put the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and once it’s hot, add the garlic and leek/onion and fry for 5 mins.
Add all the spices and fry for another 3 mins, stirring all the while. (If they start to stick to the pan, turn the heat down and add a little bit of water to loosen it.)
Add to the pan the butternut squash, potatoes, coconut milk, tinned tomatoes, salt, soy sauce, lemon juice, the lentils and 1 litre of water.
Simmer for between 30 mins to 1 hour, stirring regularly. (Basically it’s cooked once the lentils are soft when you bite them.)
Add the pak choi and fresh tomatoes to the pan and cook for another couple of mins. If you think the dahl is too thick then just add a bit of boiling water until it’s the consistency you’d prefer.
Season with salt and pepper as required and serve with naan bread or poppadums.