There seems to be an intense period of endings and beginnings happening at the moment. The end of the year. The end of my thesis (I submit this week!). The end of the university semester. The new year is just around the corner. I'm really beginning to find my feet as a yoga teacher. I'm beginning to take on more classes. I'm beginning to have more time to invest here. Reflection, acceptance, and taking stock seem to be major current themes. One of the things I realised is that I wouldn't have gotten through the past 2 years if it wasn't for meals like this dahl.
The promise of a dinner (or lunch) waiting for me to heat and enjoy in the moment is a deeply comforting fact when I've spent a day wracking my brain or marking papers or being in an office, just generally being externally-focused. A little kindness to myself, that feels like relief and respite from the storm of thoughts/to-do lists/schedules. Food is one of the most obvious ways I take a pause. It's a little island of calm that allows me to ground in the present, staving off the anxieties surrounding what I have to do next/tomorrow/in ten years.
Anyway, something about dahl to me spells comfort, nourishment and ease. I'm sure it does for many people. Making dahl is also a reminder for me that tasty and nutritious meals don't have to rely on a fridge full of amazing produce. With a few pantry staples: lentils, spices, tomatoes, you can have this dahl on the table in around 30 minutes. (You don't even need to pick up a knife.)
The variations here are almost endless -- don't let a slightly different lentil get in your way. I've successfully made this with green split peas, whole mung beans, brown lentils, etc. I've also added any number of vegetables: sliced kale, spinach, etc. I've tried adding different spices and combinations, but this is always the blend that I come back to. It fits, it's right. Make a double batch, freeze a few portions, and you've got dinners for more than a week.
Dahl may not be even remotely festive, but given the approach of the silly season (it's here already thought, right?) a little kindness felt in order. Speaking of festive-ness: planning on making this. And this. And this. Warm-kindness-filled hugs to you all. X
KILLER PANTRY DAHL
0.5 cup/100 g split mung beans
0.5 cup/100 g red lentils
750 ml/3 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
pinch of asafoetida (hing)
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp ground coriander seeds
400 g/1 tin diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt
In a medium saucepan, bring water, lentils, mung beans, turmeric and bay to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until cooked. In a small saucepan, heat the oil. Add the spices and cook until mustard seeds start to pop, then add the tomatoes and ground coriander. Cook spice mixture for a few more minutes, stirring to incorporate. Add the spice mixture and salt to the lentils, simmer for 5 minutes. Adjust thickness by adding more water, or cooking further to thicken.
Serve with a sprinkle of chopped herbs, a wedge of lemon and cooked rice, quinoa, or salad. Keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days.