Learn how to make this simple Trinidadian dhal recipe
If you are an avid reader of my website then you will probably already know that I am a huge fan of legumes. I usually eat some type of legume on a daily basis, sometimes in the form of a light soup and other times consume them mashed or even whole.
Irrespective of how I cook them, what’s more important to me is the nutritional content. Legumes are very contemporary in the vegan/meatless lifestyle. What most people fail to realise is that legumes are not a good source of iron which helps with the formation of red blood cells. They are also an excellent source of protein too.
Society would have us think that the only true method to procure protein is via meat, well this isn’t entirely true. Although I’m not a vegan, I do enjoy eating a variety of plant based food.
The Caribbean is known for it’s carnivore nature, what can I say many Islanders enjoy eating goat, pork lamb, beef, fish/seafood, chicken and other localised meat delicacies. However, the Caribbean lifestyle does embrace vegetarian/vegan dishes.
One fine example of a meatless dish is this one which hails from Trinidad and Tobago. My recipe is inspired by the Trinidadian method of preparing dhal. While the word dhal or dal is associated with a pulse that has been split, it plays a crucial role in southern Asian cuisines.
Trinidad and Tobago has a large population of Indians so many of the Island’s dishes bears a strong Asian influence.
Dhal is very simple to make, you will find many of the ingredients to be not only inexpensive but relativity easy to obtain. A small amount of finely chopped scotch bonnet is included in the recipe, which can be purchased from any Caribbean grocery store. If you do not live in a diverse community then simply substitute this with a fresh chilli instead.
The dhal shouldn’t take very long to cook, once the split peas have been rinsed, the most time consuming aspect will be boiling the pulse in order for them to soften. Leaving the pulse to soak overnight is another way to hasten the boiling/softening stage.
The vast majority of the ingredients will be added to the saucepan prior to boiling – garlic, onions, pepper and turmeric for colour (some people use saffron).
The thickness of the dhal shall be determined by the cook, I like my dhal slightly thin but not watery so 5 cups of water to one cup of dhal is suffice. However if you like your dhal thick then either add more spilt peas or scale back the water by a cups worth.
Once the dhal has boiled and slightly coool. Use a hand held blender like an immersion stick blender to puree.
The final step in my opinion really enhances the flavour of dhal and this is known as chongkay – where garlic and cuming (geera) is tempered in a small amount of oil. This process releases the flavour of the aforementioned before being poured over the dhal.
You can serve dhal with roti, naan bread or rice.
- 1 cup of split peas
- 5 cups of water
- 3 cloves of garlic, mashed
- 1 very small onion, finely sliced
- ¼ of scotch bonnet, finely sliced or chilli
- ½ tsp of black pepper
- ½ tsp of turmeric
- himalayan pink salt to taste
- For the chongkaying
- 2 tbsp of coconut oil
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp of cumin (geera)
- Rinse the split peas several times before pouring them into a saucepan.
- Add the water, turmeric, scotch bonnet, black pepper, garlic, onions and pink salt to the pot.
- Bring the pot to the boil, cover and reduce the heat to low-medium.
- Allow the split peas to simmer until tender for 40 minutes.
- Once the spilt peas have softened, remove the pot from the stove and carefully pulverise the mixture with a hand held blender to the desired texture and stir.
- For the chongkaying, melt the coconut oil in a frying pan and then proceed to add the garlic and cumin. Temper the cumin and garlic in the oil, infusing the flavour until the garlic is golden in colour.
- Transfer the tempered ingredients into the dhal by stirring.
- Serve accordingly