Perhaps feeling in need of some healthy food, the bloke requested lentils. Tonight's dinner was a gentle dhal, with some brown basmati rice, chopped cucumber & tomato, yoghurt and chutney, and a few slivers of cold meat. This dhal is a favourite of mine; I make it quite often. It's from a Madhur Jaffrey book, but of course a little altered.
Recipe: Dhal Phanchporan
180g red lentils
1 large onion, sliced into fine half rings
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 to 6 oven roasted tomatoes.
1 tsp salt
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 whole dried long red chillies, crumbled roughly
1 tsp panchphoran
Skin and chop tomatoes roughly, measure volume and make up to 1 litre with water. Put lentils, turmeric, garlic and half the onion in a lidded saucepan, with the tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil, and skim any scum. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 45 minutes or until lentils are well done. Strain off any excess liquid, add salt, and mash well with a potato masher.
In a small pan, heat the oil very hot. Add the panchphoron and the chillies, stir for 30 seconds or so, then add the remaining onion. Reduce heat and fry gently for 5-10 minutes, until the onion turns reddish brown. When this is ready, pour this as a topping over the dhal. Serve immediately.
Notes: the original recipe is even simpler - all water, no tomatoes, and no garlic. If I have no roast tomatoes on hand, a standard tin of tomatoes will do. Panchphoron is "five spices" - a mixture available from Indian grocery shops. You can make your own with equal proportions of whole cumin, fennel, mustard, fenugreek and nigella (kalonji) seeds.