Brown rice with bengali dhal and green bean poriyal

I’ve mentioned before that I love dhal in all its forms. I have a very varied diet but I suspect that apart from toast dhal could be the food I eat most often. So I absolutely can’t believe that I’ve never posted the recipe for this bengali moong dhal, which is the one I usually turn to. In fact the dish I referred to earlier was rice, dhal and beans, but this evening’s meal had a different dhal and different bean dish.

I’d never made this bean dish before. I’ve spoken before about my ill fated attempts to cook something from Dakshin’s South Indian Vegetarian cooking, so while the rice and lentils were cooking I decided to try this instead of my usual bean dish. I’d never used dhal in this way before (adding them to the tempering), so I half expected a cracked tooth when I ate it, but they retained a little bite but nothing dangerous. Next time I think I would add a touch of ginger; it was lacking a little zing.

I originally got the dhal recipe from a very helpful poster on the BBC food message board. Ian is an ardent omnivore but always extremely helpful and this recipe was very easy to veganise. He has kindly given permission for me to reproduce the recipe, with my tweaks.

Serves 4 with rice, a vegetable dish and a bread

6 oz split washed moong dhal
2 bayleaves
1 tablespoon oil
2 1/2 tablespoon dessicated coconut
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 whole chillies (green)
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoon oil
1 plump clove garlic, sliced
2 teaspoon whole cumin

Pick over the dhall removing the odd stone etc. Put into solid saucepan and heat dry over moderate heat, stirring ALL THE TIME with largeish metal spoon. After about 5 mins or so, the dhall will be smelling cooked and become well speckled with brown. Immediately, take pan to the sink, and pour in cold water to cover (kerboom!). Swirl around vigorously and tip out washing water. Add more water and repeat the washing process till the water runs away clear.

Now add enough water to cover by 1 to 1 1/2in. (2.5 to 4 cms). Bring to boil, add 1 Tbs oil, turmeric, cummin and bay. Turn down to low, cover and boil slowly. After about 10 to 15 mins the dhall should be parcooked – the grains are beginning to break up at the edges.

Add the coconut, the chillies (just as they are) and the chopped fresh coriander. Continue to boil slowly, adding a little more water if needed. MAKE SURE that the dhall doesn’t stick at the bottom. When cooked, add salt. Now heat oil in small pan. Add the garlic slices and cumin seeds and cook until the garlic is golden but not burnt. As soon as the seeds begins to pop, pour into the dhall, stir and simmer a couple of minutes.

I have taken to grating a carrot into my brown rice for a bit of extra colour and vitamins, but I didn’t have any in today. I do recommend it though. And watch out for those 3 stray green chillies – they can come as quite a shock!!

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