Anna Jones’s Black Dahl

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

  • 200g whole dried black lentils (also called urad dhal or black gram)
  • 100g dried kidney beans
  • groundnut or coconut oil or ghee, for frying
  • 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cardamom pods, split
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 12 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • a thumb-size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped (or 12 400g tin of chopped tomatoes)
  • a small bunch of fresh coriander, leaves picked and roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. First soak your lentils and beans in a deep bowl of cold water ─ overnight is ideal but a few hours will do.
  2. Next, heat a little oil in a large pan and gently fry the onions for 10─15 minutes, until sweet, soft and lightly browned. Add the cumin seeds, cardamom pods, turmeric, chilli powder, fennel seeds, garlic, ginger and tomato purée and stir for a couple of minutes.
  3. Drain the lentils and beans and add to the pan with the chopped tomatoes and 2 litres of cold water. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a fairly gentle simmer, put the lid on and cook for 2─2 1/2 hours, until the lentils and beans are cooked and the liquor is thick, dark and deeply flavoured. Stir the dhal from time to time while it cooks, and top up with a little hot water from the kettle if it looks too dry.
  4. Once the lentils and beans are cooked through, mash about half of them to a paste, using a potato masher in the pan, then stir together to make the dhal super creamy.
  5. Scoop the dhal into bowls and finish with a little yoghurt, if you like, and a good pile of chopped coriander. Serve warm, with soft, fluffy naans or chapattis.