This creamy roasted carrot dal ticks all the boxes - it's simple and cheap to make, but has so much flavour!
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If you're not overly familiar with lentils (or even if you are!), I urge you to try this creamy roasted carrot dal. It's a great introduction to cooking with lentils - super easy, super cheap, and most importantly, unbelievably delicious! It's definitely one of those meals that takes you by surprise with just how good it is. Sometimes the simple meals really are the best.
What is dal?
'Dal' (sometimes spelled dhal, daal, etc.) basically just means lentils, or sometimes other pulses. The word is generally used to describe Indian-style lentil dishes - lentil curries, lentil soups, etc.
Since lentils are so cheap to buy (I can get a big 1kg bag of red lentils for less than £2), dal is a really budget-friendly meal, but don't think that means it's bland or boring! You can flavour your dal with pretty much any vegetables or spices you fancy, to make any number of tasty dinners.
This creamy roasted carrot dal is the perfect example. Take some sweet roasted carrots, add some simple curry flavour and a splash of creamy coconut milk, and you've got an incredible dinner.
You know all about my love for roasted vegetables, and roasted carrot is a perfect example of how roasting can completely transform a veggie from a bit uninspiring to absolutely irresistible.
On this occasion, not going to lie, I actually used some pre-cut carrot batons that I bought in the supermarket - just to save myself a job. I'm growing a human being, you don't think I have the energy to cut carrots as well, do you?!
In the end it actually worked really well - the pre-cut batons are perfectly even in thickness, so they cooked up nice and evenly into beautiful little carrot chips. Of course, feel free to cut your own carrots if you have more energy than I do, or use those little baby carrots if you prefer!
Simple red lentil dal
While the carrots are roasting, you can prepare the lentils. Start with some onion and garlic, then add the lentils and some vegetable stock. A bit of curry powder gives all the flavour you need.
I'm always amazed at just how little you need to do to red lentils to make them tasty. Literally just these few ingredients are an incredible combination - so simple, but so effective. Just boil everything together until it's nice and thick, and the lentils are soft.
To finish your dal, you can add a few tasty extras before serving. A handful of fresh spinach is always nice to get some more goodness into your food, and some fresh coriander (cilantro) adds a fresh pop of flavour.
And last but by no means least... a big swirl of coconut milk! It makes the dal feel creamy and luxurious, and the flavour is amazing with the curry spice.
That's all there is to it! About half an hour of cooking for an insanely delicious, healthy vegan meal. Perfect.
Hello Fresh recipe boxes
I must be honest... this recipe actually came from the Hello Fresh website.
You may know Hello Fresh for their awesome meal delivery boxes - each week, they send out boxes of fresh ingredients, helpfully pre-measured to help you prepare a few healthy, tasty meals that you've personally selected.
Their boxes make dinner time a breeze. I always love knowing what I'll be cooking in advance - it seems to make everything run more smoothly when I know exactly what I need to do, and can be sure that I have all the right ingredients in the house.
I really need to get back into meal planning...
Hello Fresh recipes online
If you're not fussed about having your recipe ingredients delivered to your door, don't feel you can't still enjoy Hello Fresh - there are hundreds of recipes available online, which have all appeared in previous meal delivery boxes!
There are heaps and heaps of vegetarian recipes available on the recipe hub, and I'm sure you could adapt a lot of the non-veggie recipes too. They've all got big bright photos, along with step-by-step images, so it's a great place to browse for inspiration!
Plus, when you buy your own ingredients you have the option of adapting the recipes however you like to suit your own tastes. For example, the coconut milk in my recipe was actually Greek yogurt in the original Hello Fresh recipe, but I decided to make the switch to keep things vegan. You know I can never follow a recipe to the letter!
How do you serve dal?
Just in case being cheap, easy and delicious isn't enough, dal is also incredibly versatile. You can serve it in all sorts of ways:
- as a side dish alongside your favourite vegetarian curry
- as a standalone meal on its own, more like you'd serve lentil soup
- on top of rice, as a lentil curry in its own right
- with naan bread or chapattis for dipping
- as part of a huge Indian feast, with onion bhajis and samosas too!
How would you serve your creamy roasted carrot dal?
Creamy roasted carrot dal
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- 3 carrots, cut into sticks
- 1 ½ tablespoon oil, divided
- 2 teaspoon curry powder, divided
- 1 medium onion, sliced or diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 150 g (~ ¾ cup) dried red lentils
- 400 ml (~ 1 ⅔ cups) vegetable stock
- Few sprigs fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
- 1 handful fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoon coconut milk, plus more to serve
- Salt (if needed)
- Black pepper
- Drizzle the carrot sticks with a dash of oil, and sprinkle with about a teaspoon of curry powder. Mix well to combine, and roast at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for around 25 minutes, until soft and slightly crispy.
- Meanwhile, heat another dash of oil in a saucepan, and add the onion and garlic. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until soft and translucent but not browned. Add the lentils and vegetable stock, along with another teaspoon of curry powder. Bring to a gentle simmer, and continue to cook until the lentils are very soft - probably 20 minutes or so. You'll need to stir occasionally, especially towards the end of cooking when the water has mostly been absorbed. If needed, you can add a dash more water.
- When the lentils are cooked, add some chopped coriander (cilantro), fresh spinach, and a couple of spoonfuls of coconut milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve topped with the roasted carrots and another swirl of coconut milk.
Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.