Lentils are the cheapest (and tastiest!) way of getting protein for impoverished students, and they don’t come in a much better form than the Indian dish dhal, a thick, comforting soup with a hint of spice. This is just my version of it, and is very much adaptable to your own tastes (the only key ingredients are the lentils and something to flavour them- e.g. chilli, onion, tomatoes). Be sure to check out your local asian supermarkets and/or the ethnic aisle of the supermarket, where things like lentils and coconut milk will be sold for much cheaper.
Cauliflower and Coconut Dhal
Approx. cost: £1.03 per portion
200 g (7 oz.) red lentils
2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1-2 green chillis, deseeded and chopped finely
About 2-3cm ginger, peeled and grated (or a few cubes of Sainsbury’s frozen ginger) (optional)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 tsp ground cumin (optional)
400g tin/packet chopped tomatoes
Salt and pepper
165 ml coconut milk (Sainsbury’s sells small tins in their ethnic foods aisle) (optional)
- Rinse the lentils in a sieve, and put them in a small saucepan with 600 ml cold water and the turmeric, and bring the mixture to the boil. Skim off the residue at the top. Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the lentils are cooked and broken up – if your mixture is watery, leave the lid off towards the end to let it thicken up a bit. Whisk the lentil mixture up at the end to make it extra smooth.
- Break the cauliflower up into florets, chopping larger florets in half. Don’t waste the stems, but slice them up too! Pop them in a colander and rinse.
- Heat 2 tbsp sunflower oil in a medium saucepan, and fry the onions over a medium heat. Once the onion is soft, add the cauliflower, and fry for 5 minutes. Add the chilli, ginger, and garlic, and, turning down the heat, fry for another 5 minutes. Add the cumin, and fry for a further minute.
- Add the tomatoes, making sure to slosh a little water around the tin to get all the last remnants of tomato out and into your curry. Season, and put the lid on. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the cauliflower is cooked.
- Mix in the cooked lentils, and cook for a few more minutes. Finally, stir in the coconut and cook for another minute. Enjoy on its own or with some bread.