This week I’ve decided to share my delicious beetroot inspired masala dahl recipe.
This rather easy blend, contains leeks, red lentils, tomatoes (in the form of passata/crushed tomatoes), garam masala and a hint of coconut. The flavours all dance and entwine in the pot, to create a wonderful feast of deliciousness.
It’s an economical dish, using simple ingredients (mostly). It serves well as part of selection of other complimentary foods. For example, I serve this with turmeric rice and grilled poppadoms, often along side a curry with sweet chutney. It does however serve completely on it’s own (or with some of my gluten-free soda bread) as a ‘stew’.
Note: The portion size in the recipe below assumes that it will be served as an accompaniment to rice and another curry. However, if you want to eat it as a ‘stew’ on its own, then it serves one person. Adjust your desired quantities accordingly.
A bit about garam masala…
I am using garam masala in this recipe. Traditionally you add garam masala right at the end of a dish, to retain its vibrant flavours.
I must admit that I do make my own garam masala blend, from scratch using traditional methods of toasting in a cast iron skillet and grinding by hand with my pestle and mortar. I find is so rewarding to connect with each individual spice and be an intimate part of the whole process.
However, if you haven’t got the energy to make your own from scratch (which is probably most people, I imagine) worry ye not! In this day and age, you can easily buy ready ground, garam masala in the shop.
There is no ‘one’ particular formula, because garam masala varies from region to region India. To add to the confusion, they are often still all called ‘garam masala’ over here in the West, no matter what formula it is. So explore and be sure to find one that you personally love.
Now about that beetroot….
I’ve got a real thing for beetroot. There is something about that red colour that excites culinary endeavours. It’s an often, over-looked, earthy, root vegetable, that, despite its reputation, lends itself rather nicely to delicious, magic in the kitchen.
A lot of us are put off by that bleeding, red colour. Seems to get everywhere. There’s no easy way around it – but what I would say is, make friends with it; enjoy it; embrace it; make a mess; let it bring your kitchen alive with vibrant colour. Beetroot is one of my all time favourite ingredients – LOVE IT – LOVE IT -LOVE IT!
The health benefits of beetroot
Not only does beetroot work well in this dish, it has an impressive nutritional and health benefit profile. It has been shown to help lower blood pressure, to support liver function, to help with stamina and energy endurance and has excellent anti-oxidant properties.
From a nutrient perspective, beetroot is high in:
- Folate (folic acid/B9) – essential for DNA synthesis and repair
- Manganese – for skin & bone health; blood sugar management; protection against free-radicals
- Potassium – helpful for blood pressure regulation and kidney health
- Vitamin C – powerful anti-oxidant; helpful for wound healing; blood sugar regulator
- Beetroot also has good levels of zinc, iron and copper for maintaining general healthy body function.
Read all about the health benefits of beetroot here: The Health Benefits of Beetroot
OK let’s make this Beetroot Masala Dhal together…
Be sure to chop the leeks into tiny pieces. First you sautée the leeks for a couple of minutes…
In the meantime, chop the beetroot (with skin still on – just cut off any tough, end bits) into small cubes (about 1cm cubed in side).
Then add the cubed beetroot and lentils to the pan…
Add the water and passata and away we go! I’ve written out the whole recipe here for you…
- 1 leek (small/medium sized or 150g)
- Dash of olive oil
- 1 beetroot (just under tennis ball size)
- 75g red lentils (1/3 cup)
- 300ml water (1¼ cups)
- 150ml passata or crushed tomatoes (2/3 cup)
- ½ inch ginger
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- Extra twist of black pepper (optional)
- 25g creamed coconut (or 3 tablespoons of coconut cream)
- Coriander leaves (cilantro) as optional garnish
- Chop the leek into very small pieces.
- Saute in pan with the olive oil for a couple of minutes (stirring occasionally).
- In the meantime, cut the beetroot into 1cm cubes (approximately - you just don't want them too big). No need to peel the beetroots.
- Add the lentils, water and passata.
- Bring to the boil and the allow to simmer (with lid).
- Peel the ginger and then finely grate it. Alternatively you can finely chop it or crush with pestle and mortar.
- Cook for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Chop the creamed coconut and stir it in right at the end of the cooking period, along with the sea salt, pepper and garam masala. Allow these final flavours to dance for a couple of minutes and then serve.
- The keeps well for a few days and reheats nicely.
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