Like most of the world at the minute, I can’t help thinking about this one particular thing at least 90% of the time if not all of the time: food, and believe me, it’s the last thing I want to be thinking about while I’m in recovery. I think about it when I’m eating it, and I think about it when I’m not eating it. What am I going to make for Breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? In between? I’m literally going to bed thinking about what I can eat or bake the next day. At this stage, I would need to open up a window shop to stop my partner from eating everything.
Problem is: What do you make when you have no food left? I had this issue the other day. I’d used all of my freezer stock and I really didn’t want to go to the shops. The arrows really don’t seem to have made a difference in some places. If anything they just point towards the chaos. I had two choices: raid the cupboards and the fridge for scraps, or send my poor unassuming partner into the war zone. I decided the first idea was safer. I had no pasta, rice or potatoes, but I did have red lentils, so straight away I knew I could make a soup, curry, chilli or dal. I always have a million herbs and spices and I knew I had some random fruit and veg lying about, so I settled with dal.
Now my experience with dal has never been the best, probably because I’d only ever eaten it before with mung beans and they are not my friend, but lentils I do like. So here it is, my Coconut and Cauliflower Dal. Remember to look for hints and tips if you are following the FODMAP Diet.
10 mins prep
20 mins cooking time
2 tbsp Coconut Oil
1 Garlic Clove, finely chopped (can replace Coconut Oil with 2 tbsp Garlic Oil instead)
2cm Ginger, grated or finely chopped
1/2 Red Chilli (deseeded if you don’t like too much heat)
125g Red Split Lentils (Or Green Lentils, or Mung Beans)
1 tsp Turmeric
Coconut Milk (the Cream from the top only)
1/2 head of Cauliflower, florets only (Broccoli if on fodmap diet, or any other fodmap friendly veg)
1/2 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
60g Cashew Nuts (Be careful with quantity if on fodmap diet)
A handful of Cherry Tomatoes
110g of Halloumi or Paneer cut into 1cm cubes
A handful of toasted Coconut Chips (optional)
100g Spinach (could use Kale as well or instead of, just cut the stalks off)
A tbsp Lemon Juice/Lime Juice
A handful of Pomegranate Seeds (optional)
A few leaves of fresh Coriander (can include stalks for more depth of flavour)
A pinch of Salt and Pepper
- Melt 1 tbsp oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and then stir in the garlic, ginger and chilli.
- Cook for one minute and then pour in the lentils, turmeric and the cream from the coconut milk. Give everything a good mix.
- Pour in boiling water, enough so that it’s at least 3cm above the lentils. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt and turn it up to a high heat until the water boils.
- When it boils, bring it down to a simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils have absorbed most of the water, but not all. You want it to look a little like porridge (which I’m still struggling to like).
- While this is happening, preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius or 200 if it’s a fan oven.
- Put the cauliflower into a baking dish and cover it with the other tbsp of oil, garam masala, mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Season it with salt and pepper then give it a good mix.
- Bang it in the oven for 5 minutes, then take it out and add the tomatoes, halloumi, cashew nuts, and coconut chips if not already toasted.
- Stick it back in for the last 10 minutes of cooking time.
- By this stage, the lentils should be done, so stir in the spinach leaves and squeeze in the juice of your choice.
- Serve up the lentils in a bowl and then tip in the cauliflower mix (or broccoli if this is what you have used)
- Sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds and coriander and then season for the last time.
One thing I’ve learnt, now is not the time to go out of your way to find the most obscure ingredient you can, it’s the time to get creative with what you already have and use what’s available at the nearest corner shop. I was so shocked the other day when I walked into our wee corner shop that no one ever uses and found garlic, ginger and aubergine of all things, so do take the time to look around that wee shop that you use for your milk and butter!
For this dish, you can turn it into a tomato based dish with some tomato puree or a tin of chopped tomatoes. You can make it even more coconutty (not a word I know) by adding desiccated coconut into the lentil mixture. You can take out the cheese, substitute the herbs and spices, do whatever you feel like really! You can change the main vegetable: butternut squash or sweet potato would also work well. You could add in some rice, but do be careful, this dish is deceptively filling. It’s your palette, so you decide on the paint!
Have a good week and as always, please take care!