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Last night we cooked a meal that we’d never had before, and it was delicious. Over the summer I bought a recipe book called Freshly Pickedby Jojo Tulloh after reading a lovely excerpt from her book in a magazine on how to make the perfect salad.
One recipe I have been wanting to try from the book, is Sorrel dhal. My favourite grocery, Unicorn Groceryin Manchester currently has big bundles of sorrel, so I thought this the perfect time to try this dish. They also have a nice deli counter, with olives and hummous and all kinds of goodies (often an incredibly delicious homemade dhal!) and amongst all these I spotted a ‘channa salad.’ It comprised of a spicy chickpea salad – fantastically, Unicorn have a recipe for it on their website.
So along with some pitta bread (this was what we had in the freezer) rather than naan, we set about creating ourselves an Indian inspired feast. The dhal recipe itself was not difficult to make, but I did have a few teething problems – nothing too difficult to fix though. This was my first foray into dhal making, so it was bound to have a few hiccups.
Once the dhal was made, we served it up on plates with warm pitta bread and the channa salad. It was more delicious than I was expecting, incredibly comforting, a wonderful blend of gentle spices and hot chilli, and all vegetarian. Even N was pleasantly surprised and wolfed the lot down.
Below is the original recipe from Freshly Picked, with a few tweaks that I made whilst cooking it.
450g chana dhal or split yellow lentils (we used yellow split peas)
3 thick slices of ginger, unpeeled, smashed with the handle of a knife
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 – 1 tsp salt (use this as a guideline, I seasoned it until it tasted the way we liked it)
a pinch of garam masala (I used a generous pinch)
a knob of butter
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and flattened with the flat side of your chopping knife
2 green chillies, deseeded and finely sliced (I used one small green chilli as we don’t like too much heat)
a bunch of sorrel leaves, sliced into ribbons
Put the chana dhal into a saucepan and cover with about a litre of water. Bring to the boil and remove any scum. Add the ginger and turmeric and cook for at least 1 1/2 hours.
Caution, if you are not experienced in using pulses, like me, check on your pan regularly. I set my timer for 30 minutes as the cooking time on the packet of split peas said 40 minutes – I didn’t check on it during those 30 minutes and it boiled dry – an almost disaster! I simply added more water and carried on cooking it until it was the ‘thick puree with the pulses very soft to the touch’ that Jojo describes later.
If you are following Jojo’s recipe…
Keep your eye on it during the last 30 minutes and add a little more water if it is too dry, stirring occasionally. You are aiming for a thick puree with the pulses very soft to the touch. Add the salt and garam masala.
Just before you are ready to serve the dhal, heat a knob of buter in a heavy frying pan. Add the garlic and the chillies, quickly followed by the sorrel.
Cook the sorrel down gently for 5 minutes until it starts to disintegrate. Tip the whole mixture into the pan with the cooked dhal.
At this point, I tasted the dhal and adjusted the seasoning to our taste. This involved adding some more salt, and a couple of other ingredients: a little lemon juice to enhance the lemony flavour from the sorrel (perhaps I didn’t add enough) and some Tabasco sauce to increase the heat a little.
Add a little hot water from the kettle if it looks too thick. Stir well and set aside until you are ready to eat it.
Jojo recommends that this dish goes well with sour chickpeas and chapattis (both recipes included in her book, Freshly Picked) for a simple Indian supper. This is an utterly lovely book and I would recommend you go out and buy it and add it to your collection – it will become a family favourite!