Warming Indian vegetarian curry made in minutes

Daily Dish: DJ Tara Stewart is on song with her mum’s special red lentil curry

My mum is the best cook on the planet, hands down. That’s a big statement, but it’s true. She can make the most delicious meals out of the most basic, or the most complicated ingredients.

She and my dad had an Indian restaurant and an Irish bar that were connected, called Malathi's Restaurant and Sean's Bar, in Alice Springs, Australia, when I was growing up. People used to come just for her curries, and a pint.

You would think I would be sick of eating curries by now, but they’re my favourite things in the world. I’ve eaten them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, on weekdays and weekends.

There are so many meat recipes of hers that I could share with you, but right now, I’m trying out the whole veggie/pescatarian diet, so I’m going to share with you my mother’s dhal. She’s been making this ever since I can remember.

This dish is perfect for winter and so incredibly cheering, with its yellow colour with speckles of black mustard seeds. You can eat this with rice, but I prefer to eat it with some garlic and coriander naan, raita and a bit of added dry chilli flakes (if you like it extra spicy).

What you’ll need:

Serves 4

220g red lentils (no soaking required)
3 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
150g coconut cream (optional)
1 stalk curry leaves
1 vegetable stock cube
2 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil

How to cook it:

1. Place the lentils in pot and add water that comes 2.5cm above lentils, then bring to the boil and simmer until the lentils soften and absorb the water. If necessary, add more water as the lentils cook, don’t let them dry out. You should end up with a thick soupy consistency.

2. Whilst dhal is simmering do the following: In a separate pan add the mustard seeds without oil, and toast them on medium heat. They will turn a browny colour. Then add the oil to the mustard seeds and saute them; then add chopped onions and garlic.

3. Add the turmeric to the lentils and mix it through. Tip: use a whisk to mix it in and it will be more evenly spread. Add the stock cube and crumble it through rather than add it whole, to ensure it is mixed in well.

4. When the onion and garlic mixture is soft and cooked through, add the curry leaves plus stalk (you can remove it once the dish is ready) and saute till the leaves change colour, then remove from heat and add this to the lentils. Mix through. Now add coconut cream, if you wish. Again, whisk it through to have an even spread. Simmer on low heat for another 10 minutes.

5. Remove from the heat and serve. You can serve this with nan bread, papadums, rice or salad.

Tara Stewart is a DJ. She presents a new music show on 2FM weekdays at 8pm

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