Thursday, 11 July 2013

Dahl with Broad Beans & Aubergine

This dish of course doesn't exist in the vast repertoire of Indian Cuisine, however I'm almost certain that when faced with 1 aubergine that needs using up and a handful of the season's first broad beans, it's entirely plausible that a dish like this could be made in India.

Mayanmar (Burma) makes it 104, welcome!
Mongolia makes it 105, welcome!

To make this dish you will need:
250g of orange split lentils
1 aubergine (plus oil for deep frying)
150g of broad beans (weighed after shelling)
2 medium sized onions
8 cloves of garlic
2 thumb sized pieces of fresh ginger
3 fresh green chilies
1 dozen fresh or dried curry leaves
4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
1 dried red chilli
4 cloves
1 teaspoon of salt plus more for sprinkling on the aubergine.

Gertrude Jekyll, one the most fragrant of roses.

Soak the lentils for an hour or so in a litre of water then cook either in a saucepan or in the microwave until they become tender, set to one side.
Begin by making a puree of the onion, 5 cloves of garlic and ginger. I find the addition of 1 tablespoon of the oil and the tablespoon on vinegar make it easier to blend the ingredients into a fine puree. If your blender complains, the addition of a further tablespoon of water may be required.
Heat up a saucepan or karahi on a high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil, when the oil is hot, add the mustard and cumin seeds and as soon as they begin to spit, add the onion, garlic & ginger puree along with the turmeric, dried red chilli, cloves and salt, turn down the heat and fry gently stirring occasionally until the puree is reduced and becomes translucent. You should also notice the oil beginning to separate from the puree which is a sign that it is cooked. Add the tomato puree and cook for a further 2 minutes before adding the curry leaves and the cooked lentils. Add more water if you think the mix is a little thick and add the broad beans. Cover with a lid and cook gently over a low heat. Meanwhile cut the aubergine up into cubes and sprinkle with a little salt; this allows for some of the moisture to be drawn out of the aubergine and most importantly I find the cubes soak up far less oil when they are deep fried. After half an hour rinse the cubes of aubergine under a running tap for a moment or two and pat dry before deep frying in very hot oil until they become golden brown on all sides. I keep them moving with a slotted spoon in order to achieve this. If you don't wish to deep fry the aubergine, simply cook in a single layer in a heavy based pan moving them around until all sides are browned, I find using this method the aubergine actually soaks up more oil and becomes more fragile so it's deep frying for me. The finished dish serves 4 to 6 people and the overall fat content isn't particularly high if served with boiled rice or naan. Add the cooked aubergine to the dahl. Place the remaining tablespoon of oil in a small pan and fry the remaining 3 cloves of garlic having sliced them wafer thin, along with the green chillies, chopped. Fry them gently but long enough for the garlic to become a little coloured. Burnt garlic becomes bitter tasting so achieve a golden state by taking your time. Add to the dahl and continue to cook gently over the lowest heat for a further hour. Serve this dish with rice or naan and perhaps 1 other vegetable dish.

The flavour of this dish is enhanced by the addition of the vinegar in the making of the puree, considering the modest nature of the ingredients, it really is a delicious dish.
The addition of vegetables to the dahl need not be confined to broad beans and aubergine of course, you can add whatever vegetables you choose, simply consider whether or not, like the aubergine, they need prior cooking before adding.


  1. Lovely to have you back Tôbi! This dahl looks delicious and it turns out I've got all the ingredients in my kitchen (including fresh beans from the garden) so it'll be my dinner tomorrow :)

    Love, Gauthier

  2. Now what we really need from the Emneth gourmet is a recipe to use lots of cucumber as they are growing and maturing faster than I can make and eat chilled soup, and my husband will not eat any more in a salad. Love Silvan

  3. Hello and thank you for your comment, personally I think chilled cucumber juice at this time of year is always a treat, especially if you juice it with mint. I like cucumber lightly pickled in the Japanese style too, with a little salt, sugar and rice wine vinegar, cucumber sandwiches, take some beating and you can always hide the odd cucumber in ajo blanco, if you check out my most recent post, cucmber are even good sauteed in a little butter and served as a vegetable with poached salmon; a happy complaint to have cucumbers growing faster than a husband can keep up with, I think. love and best wishes, Tôbi

  4. Well that's brilliant thank you, ask for one idea and five come along all at once Love Silvan.x