Let's Cook with Meg and Ted

Toor dahl

Kokum is the sticky, dried purple fruit of the gamboge tree, or false mangosteen, and it gives a slight acidy, fruity flavour to the dish. You should be able to find it in Indian grocers. If you get a packet with pieces which are mush smaller than 5 cm, just make up the approximate amount in smaller bits. How thoroughly you deseed the chillies will determine the heat of this dish - leave in a few more seeds if you like it hotter. This recipe is adapted from one in Hot Food.

500 gtoor dahl (yellow lentils)
5 pieceskokum, each about 5 cm long
2 heaped teaspoonscoriander seeds
2 heaped teaspoonscumin seeds
2 tablespoonsoil
2 heaped teaspoonsblack mustard seeds
10curry leaves
1cinnamon stick, 10 cm long
5green chillies, roughly deseeded, finely chopped
0.5 teaspoonground turmeric
400 g canchopped tomatoes
20 gjaggery/palm sugar/soft brown sugar
coriander leaves, chopped

Soak the lentils in cold water for two hours, then drain and rinse. RInse the kokum, remove any stones, and put in a bowl of cold water for a couple of minutes to soften, the drain. In a large saucepan, put the lentils, the kokum, and 4 cups of water. Bring slowly to the boil, then simmer for 50 minutes, or until the lentils are soft.

Place a small frying pan over low heat, and dry roast the coriander seeds until aromatic. Remove the seeds to a mortar and pestle. Dry fry the cumin seeds till aromatic, then add them to the mortar, and grind the seeds to a fine powder.

Heat the oil in a small pan over low heat. Add the mustard seeds and allow to pop. Add the curry leaves, cloves, cinnamon stick, chillies, turmeric and roasted cumin and coriander mix, and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato and cook for 3 minutes. Add the jaggery, stir through, and tip the spicy mix into the simmering lentils and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt to taste, then serve with rice, garnished with coriander leaves.

5 December 2003

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