This post is part of my Feed a Family of Four for £3 challenge.
I was inspired to make this meal by a comment to my last post by Choclette of The Chocolate Log Blog. She reminded me that dal, served with brown rice makes for a nutritious and healthy meal.
For some reason I haven’t made dal for years. In my student days I practically lived off it. I would make a massive pot of it at the weekend and it would last me until Thursday.
I made this for us last week and then Chip Butties and Noodle Soup left a comment on my last post linking to her dal recipe, so it seems that dal is definitely the way to go.
I had bought a cauliflower with the intention of making cauliflower cheese. However, I thought that combining them with the rest of the tomatoes and some chilli would make a good accompaniment to the creamy dal.
The dal does contain turmeric and coriander, which might be costly to buy at first but if you plan to make this a regular feature at the table then the cost per serving is small. Large Tesco stores ( and perhaps other supermarkets) sell spices at a more reasonable rate if you seek out the aisle specialising in Asian foods. For example 300g of coriander seeds or 400g of ground coriander both come in at 99p. 400g of turmeric costs £1.99 or 99p for 100g. Independent Asian convenience stores also sell spices at low prices. I have coriander growing in a pot so I used some of that to flavour mine, but ground coriander would have done the job equally well.
Chana dal costs £1.29 for 500g or £2.99 for 2kg. The tin of tomatoes costs 31p for 400g and I used half for the dal and half for the cauliflower. The cauliflower was from the value range at 69p. The chilli was from a pack of 4 for 60p. The breadcrumbs were from my freezer. If I have any stale bread left over, I whizz it up and put it in a food bag in the freezer. It was roughly the equivalent of a thick slice from a bloomer so no more than 10p. The onion costs 14p as part of a pack of value onions. I did serve it with parmesan and fresh coriander, both of which I had in the house but are not integral to the flavour of the dish. All together this meal comes in at about £2.40 and served four people. We had some bread to mop up the juices which adds a bit more to the meal but keeps it under the £3.00 budget. It was a meal that we all enjoyed and will be repeated.
You can soak the lentils ahead of time to reduce the cooking time and therefore reduce the fuel needed to cook the dal.
For the dal
250g of split lentils or chana dal
1 litre of water
1 tsp turmeric
200g chopped tomatoes (tinned)
salt and pepper
1 tsp ground coriander or 4-5 sprigs of fresh coriander
1 onion, finely chopped
25g butter or ghee
Rinse the lentils or chana dal really well and check over for any stray stones. Place in a medium-sized pan with the water and the turmeric. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes until tender and most of the water has been absorbed. Mash the lentils with a potato masher or fork. Add the tomatoes and coriander and the salt and pepper to taste and cook for another 15 minutes.
Melt the butter or ghee and cook the onion until lightly brown. Serve over the dal.
For the crumbed cauliflower:
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
200g tinned chopped tomatoes
1 chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
small pat of butter or glug of oil
1-2 slices of stale bread grated into crumbs
Boil or steam the cauliflower until just tender to the point of a knife. Drain well. In a separate pan add the butter or oil and fry the chilli for a minute, add the tomatoes and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the cauliflower and stir gently to coat it with the tomato sauce. Put the cauliflower in an oven proof dish and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs. Place under a hot grill for a minute or two until the crumbs are browned. Serve with the dal.