This sublime dish comes from the western Indian state of Gujerat, which is almost wholly vegetarian thanks to Jain and traditional Hindu religious influences. Make it as soupy or as thick as you like and serve with plenty of roti to scoop it up with.
- 300 g (1½ cups) toor dahl (pigeon pea dahl) (see Note)
- 1.5 litres (6 cups) water
- 2½ tbsp ghee
- ¾ tsp each black mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds
- 3 large dried chillies
- 50 g (⅓ cup) roasted peanuts, finely chopped
- 1 tsp each hot paprika and ground turmeric
- 1½ tsp each ground cumin and coriander
- ¼ tsp asafetida (see Note)
- handful curry leaves
- 2½ tbsp tamarind puree (see Note)
- 2 large ripe egg tomatoes, finely chopped
- 90 g (⅓ cup) shaved jaggery (2 tbsp)
- juice of 1 lime, or to taste
- coriander chopped, to garnish
- roti, to serve warm
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Rinse the dahl well then combine with the water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, skimming any foam that rises to the surface, or until very tender.
Meanwhile, heat the ghee in a small frying pan over medium, add the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and dried chillies and cook, for 2-3 minutes or until mustard seeds start to pop. Add the peanuts , paprika, turmeric, cumin, coriander, asafetida and curry leaves and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture is fragrant. Add to the undrained dahl in the saucepan with the tamarind, tomatoes and jaggery and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, over medium low heat for 15 minutes for flavours to develop and the liquid to reduce a little (mixture will not be thick however. If you would like it thicker, simply simmer it for longer). Stir in the lime juice, adding more to taste, season to taste with salt and pepper then serve scattered with coriander and with roti, for dipping.
• Toor dahl is available from Indian food stores.
• Asafetida (also called asafoetida) is available from Indian food stores or Herbies spices
• Tamarind puree is best prepared from tamarind pulp: chop 50 g tamarind, combine with 100 ml water in small saucepan and place over medium heat, using a potato masher to break down pulp. Strain, discard seeds and fibre, use pulp.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O'Brien.