Naturally delicious real food.

A New Year’s Treat!

This year’s curries cooked by Pav with the help of a few kitchen choppers (Alex, Annie, Gina and Nia) were simply the best we had ever tasted. We were treated to the most amazing lamb and chicken dishes, deliciously light onion and cauliflower bhajis made with gram flour (chick pea flour), tomato, aubergine and cardamon dal and a crunchy kohlrabi raita which will all get featured in the next few weeks.

But first to the dal which is often considered to be the real core of an Indian meal, and a great dish to offer to vegans and vegetarians – it is real comfort food and can be served with just about any curry. It is likely that every dal you have will be different, this is largely because the meaning of dal as defined in the Oxford dictionary is simply ‘split pulse’; there are endless combinations and possibilities of ingredients. If any remains after the meal whizz up with a little more stock to make a lovely warming soup.

But this tomato, aubergine and cardamon dal is one of my favourites:


A New Year’s Treat!

Serves 8


2 onions chopped

2 mild red chillies with seeds removed and chopped

10 cm piece of ginger peeled and chopped

2 cloves of garlic peeled

2 tbsp tumeric

2 tbsp cumin seeds

2 tbsp coriander seeds

2 tbsp cinnamon

2 tbsp medium curry powder


4 tbsp oil  – for vegans or ghee/ butter for non-vegans to cook the paste in

one large aubergine

drizzle of olive oil

200g red split lentils

200g yellow split lentils – check on the packet but both these can be cooked without soaking overnight.

2 cans of chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp sugar

500ml vegetable stock

12 cardamon pods – lightly crushed

2 cinnamon sticks

salt and pepper to taste

juice of two lemons

chopped coriander to garnish


Begin by making the paste, add all the paste ingredients to a food processor and blitz until well blended or use a little muscle power with a pestle and mortar.

Heat the oil or butter in a saucepan and sauté the paste mix for a few minutes – stir all the time so that the mix does not burn. Add the cardamon and cinnamon – the flavours will develop in the cooking. Set aside.

Chop the aubergine into 1cm cubes and place on a baking tray, sprinkle with a drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, cook for 10 minutes in a hot oven until slightly soft. Remove and set aside.

Wash and drain the lentils, add to the paste saucepan and then stir in the tomatoes, sugar, vegetable stock, salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the dal for 30/40 minutes on the top of the stove, I like the lentils to keep some shape and the dal not to be too liquidy but you can adjust the consistency with the amount of stock that you add.

Once cooked stir in the lemon juice. You may wish to remove the cardamon pods and cinnamon sticks at the point.  Transfer to a warm bowl and top with the cooked aubergine and chopped coriander.


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Through The Natural Pantry I hope to share with you some of the delicious recipes discovered whilst cooking in my kitchen with produce grown in our garden and the very best natural ingredients.