For me, this recipe conveys exactly the message that we want to spread with our blog; that eating a vegan diet doesn’t need to be any more difficult or any less delicious than a non-vegan one. I’ve cooked this meal many times for friends and family, where I’ve made it as part of a simple supper or a more elaborate dinner party, and every time it’s always such a crowd pleaser! The secret ingredient to this flavourful dish couldn’t be more simple: Patak’s Madras Curry Paste. This little shortcut makes the whole process of cooking this daal so quick and easy that we have added in another little recipe to go with it: a refreshing kachumber, which is an Indian salad made with cucumber, tomato, onion, mint and cumin.
A couple of years ago Freya and I spent a month travelling around India, starting in Deli and continuing to Kochi to make our way around Kerala in Southern India. This was an unbelievable trip, and we learnt so much about South Indian food. One memory which always comes to mind when I think of our trip was when we went on a canoe trip where we paddled around the backwaters of Alleppey with a local guide. For lunch, he took us back to his house which sat right on the serene backwaters and looked out over a beautiful rice paddy. He and his wife cooked us the most amazing meal served up on a banana leaf. They were the most hospitable people and were so welcoming and friendly; we were totally relaxed! We ate the beautiful food and sat for what felt like hours, just looking out over the rice fields and drinking tea with them. I came back from India with so many beautiful memories like this, it’s such a stunning country. In general, the people we met over there were so kind to us, even the ones who had little to offer would share what they could, and we would share back. Although the whole experience was incredible, it certainly hasn’t turned me into a guru of Indian cuisine, it has however given me a pretty good idea of what delicious, authentic Indian food should taste like!
One of my favourite things about these two dishes is how well they complement each other. The daal is smooth, creamy, and spicy. Whilst the kachumber is fresh, crunchy, and cooling. The mix of texture and flavour makes for a delicious combination. We have enhanced this with the additional toppings we add. The dairy-free yoghurt adds a cooling respite from the heat of the dish and an extra smoothness to the daal, and the Bombay mix adds extra heat and crunch. However it should be noted, this recipe isn’t too spicy, unlike some of the food we ate in India! This is a hot dish, but I would say more of a medium heat. I have cooked it for my Mum who doesn’t particularly like her food too spicy, and she loved it. However, If you really do struggle with heat, try removing a tablespoon of the paste from the recipe. I don’t recommend this however as you will start to lose a lot of the flavour. If you can, stick with the recommended amount of madras paste, just eat it with more yoghurt and kachumber which will only enhance the flavours more!
You may be wondering why we haven’t cooked this with rice. Many daals are definitely best served with rice, however, this daal recipe has been specially created so that it is slightly thicker and doesn’t need the rice. With other, more liquidy recipes, the daal needs the rice to soak up some of the moisture. Instead, we love to eat this with a paratha, which unlike naan bread, isn’t always made with butter. You can use the paratha instead of cutlery to eat the daal, just as they would do in India. We use ‘Shana’ frozen paratha from our local Tesco, however, if you can’t find them, then using chapatis is a great alternative.
This recipe is so quick and easy that we cook it almost every week. I have put it down as 45 mins in the recipe, but as you get used to making it, it becomes simpler and quicker. I would say it’s best to get the daal started and bubbling away, and then to make the kachumber and place it covered in the fridge. Once that’s finished, and around 5 mins before the daal is ready, you can put the paratha on. Doing it this way means everything will be perfectly ready to bring to the table at the same time. It is possible to place the paratha in the oven to stay warm, but they are best eaten asap so that the pastry stays lovely and flakey.
Easy Vegan Daal and Kachumber
- 1/2 tbsp oil
- 1 white onion finely chopped
- 4 tbsp Patak's madras paste
- 2 cups red lentils
- 1 cup water
- 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
- 400 g tin coconut milk
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup mint leaves roughly chopped
- 1/2 cucumber diced
- 1/2 red onion diced
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Dairy-free yoghurt
- Bombay Mix
- 1 Paratha per person
- In a large saucepan, heat the oil on medium heat and simmer the onions for 3 minutes until translucent and aromatic. Add the madras paste and the lentils to the onions and stir for 30 seconds until everything is mixed. Make sure not let it stick and burn.
- Add in the water, tomato, and coconut milk and stir together. Leave to cook on a medium heat until it’s bubbling, then turn down the heat to a medium/low and cover with a lid. Cook for 25-35 mins, or until the lentils are soft and cooked through, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn’t stick.
- While the daal is cooking, make the kachumber by adding the cherry tomatoes, mint, cucumber, and red onion into a large bowl, and mixing together with a fork. Add the lemon juice, cumin, salt and pepper and mix in until all is coated. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge until serving.
- Once your daal is cooked, serve in a bowl with the kachumber, coriander, dairy-free yoghurt, Bombay mix, lime and paratha.
If you gave this a go, we’d love to know how you got on! Write a comment, like, or share this recipe with your friends.