My Grandmother's Dal Curry

Mercia Valerie Ganda (1908-1979)

Mercia Valerie Ganda (1908-1979)

I love a good dal, there’s nothing quite like that warming feeling it brings to your belly on a cold wintery day. For many years it was my go to meal especially when I was a broke student since it is inexpensive and highly nutritious, packed with complex carbohydrate, protein and most importantly flavour. This is why dal is such an important dish to people in Burma (Myanmar) who can’t afford to eat meat on a regular basis.

I have many dal recipes and a signature one I am proud of however I thought I would start by sharing with you one from an ancient cookbook of my Burmese Grandmother, Mercia. The book might be falling apart but the text still stands strong. It’s a very simple recipe with few ingredients yet still produces  a lovely fragrant dish. So if you are in need of a warm hug give this recipe a go.

1 cup of yellow split peas

3 small onions

4 green chillies

½ tsp turmeric powder

30g butter

1 lemon

Serves two

Rinse the yellow split peas under the tap and place in a pan of cold water making sure they are well covered and bring to the boil. Cook until soft. Keep checking them and add more water if necessary but the resulting mixture should be quite thick.

Cooks tip: Never add salt to lentils before they are cooked as this may prevent them from softening.

Slice the onions thinly and chop the chillies. Remove the seeds for less heat but I would recommend you keep them in.

Fry the onions and chilli in the butter over a low-medium heat in a heavy-based pan or frying pan.

Once the onions are soft and lightly browned add the turmeric and cook for another 30 seconds or so stirring. Make sure the turmeric doesn't burn so keep stirring.

Add the onion mixture to the cooked yellow split peas once they are softened and at the desired consistency. I give the lentils a bit of a mash with a potato masher as I like this consistency this brings but you don’t need to and my Grandmother doesn’t in this recipe.

Add salt to taste.

Just before serving I like to add the juice of ½-1 lemon too, it brings the flavours alive.

Serve with Rice or chapatis.

This is the first of a sequence of dal recipes that I will be posting so keep your eyes peeled for my signature Bagan dal recipe coming soon.

With love,

Cordelia x