How to turn beetroot leaves into a delicious dal


Powered by article titled “How to turn beetroot leaves into a delicious dal” was written by Tom Hunt, for The Guardian on Saturday 18th June 2022 05.00 UTC

Today’s dish is from my book Eating for Pleasure, People & Planet, in which I write: “The streets of Paharganj in Delhi are home to some of the most delicious foods I’ve ever eaten. I love exploring on foot, tasting treats from stall to stall, like fresh lassi, fried puri, samosas and sweet jalebi. However, my favourite dish is perhaps the most frugal: dal fry, a classic lentil dal topped with freshly fried spices, chillies and vegetables.” Beetroot leaves are widely used in India, popular for their earthy flavour and nutritional value, and go perfectly in a warming bowl of dal.

Beetroot leaf dal fry

This comforting dal is brought to life by the freshly fried vegetables and spices that are spooned over the top at the last minute. Wilted into the lentils, the nutrient-dense beetroot leaves add flavour and colour, making the dish particularly satiating. Like all my recipes, adapt this one to use whatever spices and ingredients you have to hand.

Serves 2

200g yellow lentils, washed, then soaked in water for 20 minutes
Frying oil
1 onion
, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 garlic cloves
, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp turmeric powder
8 beetroot leaves and stalks
, or chard, roughly chopped
6 coriander stems, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped
1 tbsp fenugreek leaves (optional)
1 green chilli, finely sliced
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
6 curry leaves
2 green or red tomatoes, sliced
Yoghurt, or a plant-based alternative, to serve

Put a good glug of oil in a thick-based saucepan on a medium heat. Add the onion and fry for five minutes. Add the grated ginger, chopped garlic, turmeric and fenugreek leaves, if using, and fry, stirring, for two minutes. Drain the soaked lentils, add to the pot, cover with a litre of boiling water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes, until the lentils soften and break down. Shred eight large beetroot leaves, including their red stalks, and stir into the lentils with the chopped coriander stalks, and season to taste.

When you are ready to eat, put another glug of oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Add the sliced green chilli, mustard seeds and cumin seeds, curry leaves, if using, and tomatoes, and fry, stirring, for two minutes. Serve the dal in bowls topped with a spoonful of the fried ingredients, the reserved coriander leaves and some yoghurt on the side, if you wish. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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