cod with tomato dal

dal is much-loved by me and i recently had a craving for it. sadly i was out of ginger which meant i didn’t just freestyle it, but decided to look up a few recipes to see if there was anything in particular which caught my eye. i ended up adapting a madhur jaffrey recipe – which did call for ginger but never mind!

it’s very simply put together – red lentils are boiled with turmeric and then chopped tomatoes, fresh coriander and cayenne pepper, plus a bit of salt, go in. plus baby spinach leaves. towards the end onion, garlic and curry leaves (or basil, which i never would have thought to substitute but worked really well) are fried together and added to the dal just before serving, along with fresh coriander and some lime juice.

the resulting flavour is nice and light and worked really well with some fried cod which i seasoned lightly with salt and a bit of lime juice as it fried in the same pan i’d cooked the onions and garlic for the dal.

cod with tomato dal* (serves 2)

150g red lentils, washed and drained

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

2 tomatoes, chopped

¾ teaspoon salt

a handful of chopped fresh coriander (stems and leaves), plus another tablespoon

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon oil

½ teaspoon mustard seeds (i used black mustard seeds)

1 small onion, finely chopped

10 fresh curry leaves or 5 fresh basil leaves

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (optional)

1 large clove of garlic, peeled and finely grated

juice of half a lime

put the lentils and 550ml water into a pan and bring to the boil. lower the heat, skim off the froth and add the turmeric. stir, partially covered and reduce the heat to low – simmer gently until the lentils are cooked (the original recipe states 40 minutes but mine took around half this time), keeping an eye on whether you need to add more water.

add the tomatoes, salt, a handful of coriander and the cayenne pepper. bring to a simmer, cover, lower the heat and cook for another 10 minutes. stir and turn off the heat.

heat the oil in a small frying pan and, when hot, add the mustard and cumin seeds. when they start to pop, add the onion and curry leaves (or basil) and fry over a medium-high heat until the onion starts to turn brown. add the ginger and garlic, cook for 1 minute, and then add to the lentils. stir in the remaining coriander and the lime juice. taste to see if you need to adjust the seasoning/lime. 

* based on a madhur jaffrey recipe