TARKA DAL AND MUGLAI ALOO
Preparation: 30 minutes. Cooking: 25 minutes. Serves 4
BOOKS that concentrate on how the food we eat affects us, in terms of mood as well as nutrition, are a growing trend and it's worth owning at least one because they make fascinating reading.
Lentils, for example, man's oldest food, are good for reducing cholesterol, stress and nervous exhaustion. On the downside, they contain purines, which can cause uric acid salts to be deposited in the joints, so they aren't recommended if you suffer from gout. Nature's other comfort food, the wonderfully versatile potato, is packed with minerals and vitamins, so this combination of food is top of the charts if you've overdone it at the weekend.
Both dishes, either together or individually, are wonderful cold.
I like this combination with some slightly overcooked naan bread or a hot chapati. Mango chutney and raita are ideal extras, but Indian mint sauce, made by stirring equal quantities of finely chopped mint and coriander into plain yoghurt, seasoned with lemon juice, salt and finely-chopped green chilli, could be even better for you.
1 kg similar-sized new potatoes
150g red split lentils
1 tsp turmeric salt
1 large onion
2 green chillies
5cm piece fresh ginger
4 large garlic cloves
1 tsp each ground cloves, cumin and coriander
2 tbsp chopped coriander
3 tbsp groundnut oil
2 dried red chillies
1 /2 tsp cumin seeds
Scrub or scrape the potatoes and put on to boil in plenty of salted water.
Wash the lentils in several changes of water. Place in a pan with 600ml of water and half a teaspoon of turmeric.
Bring lentils to the boil,t urn the heat down low, cover the pan, and simmer for about 25 minutes until the dal is thick and the lentils tender.
Stir in half a teaspoon of salt and leave covered.
Peel, halve and slice the onion.
Melt the butter in a frying pan, stir in the onion, season generously with salt, stir again, then turn the heat very low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.
Finely chop the chillies, and then peel and chop the ginger and three garlic cloves.
Blitz chillies, ginger and garlic with a little water to make a paste and stir it into the yoghurt, together with the ground cloves, cumin, coriander and turmeric.
Pour the yoghurt into the onions, add 50ml of water and the drained potatoes. Stir well and simmer for 10 minutes. Adjust the seasoning and stir in the coriander.
To finish the dal, crush the garlic until it cracks, then flake away the skin.
Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat until hot.
Stir in the cumin seeds and chillies. As soon as the chillies darken, stir in the garlic. Cook for a few seconds then tip the contents of the pan into the dal.
Stir and leave covered for a few minutes for the flavours to permeate through. Serve potatoes and dal immediately or eat lukewarm or cold.
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