Yellow dal with steamed chard recipe
250g yellow split peas
50g of butter
2 tsp of ground coriander seeds
2 tsp of cumin seeds
2 peeled and crushed cloves of garlic
A nob of turmeric
Tip the yellow split peas into a deep saucepan and cover with a good litre of water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat a little, skim off the froth, then simmer for 45-50 minutes until soft.
Peel the onion, roughly chop it, then let it soften for 10 minutes over a moderate heat in a large pan with 30g of the butter. Add ground coriander seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric and garlic. Let the spices and aromatics cook with the onions for a good 5 minutes.
Using a blender or food processor, blitz half the mixture to a smooth purée then, using a rubber spatula, return it to the pan. You should have a thick, slushy mixture with different textures. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add the fried onions and spices to the dal and stir them in.
Rinse and trim the chard. Warm a shallow layer of water in a frying pan, add the chard and let it cook for 4-5 minutes until it is tender, turning it over in the water once or twice. Drain and return to the pan with the remaining 20g of butter. As the butter melts, turn the chard over in it to coat it, and season with salt.
Ladle the dal into bowls or deep plates, chop the chard and add to the dal. Serve immediately. Serves 2.
If the water evaporates too quickly, add some more from the kettle. Adding cold water will lengthen the cooking time. The texture is up to you. Leave the peas whole if you wish, or use a whisk to purée them. I often pour half the mixture into a blender and process to a thick purée then return it to the pan.
Use brown lentils, or the small split mung bean instead. Use spinach instead of chard. Serve with rice or scoop up messily in warm Indian bread. The best version I have made involved frying the onions and spices in a little duck fat instead of butter.