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Serves: 4

An estimated 40 per cent of Indians are vegetarian, so it’s no surprise that the nation has
perfected the art of meat-free cooking. This recipe proves the point.

For the Curry
1 rounded teaspoon cumin seeds
1 rounded teaspoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 onion or 3 shallots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 medium size potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
400ml can coconut milk
500ml vegetable stock
227g can tomatoes
1/2 small cauliflower, cut into florets
handful of green beans, trimmed and cut into 4cm lengths

For the dhal
300g yellow split peas
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
2 slices fresh ginger
1 onion, finely chopped
40g butter
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, sliced
1/2 teaspoon kalonji (black onion) seeds
1 teaspoon caster sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
coriander leaves to garnish
brown rice to serve


First make the dhal. Tip the split peas into a large bowl, cover with cold water and leave to soak overnight. Drain and rinse the split peas, tip into a saucepan, add the ground turmeric, cinnamon stick, cardamon pods and ginger. Pour over 600ml cold water, bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer and continue to cook for about 40 minutes until the split peas are very tender and starting to soften at the edges. Season with salt to taste.

Melt the butter in a small frying pan, add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook over a medium heat until tender but not coloured. Meanwhile lightly crush the cumin and coriander seeds. Add them, along with the chilli, ginger, garlic, kalonji seeds and sugar to the onions and continue to cook until caramelised and fragrant. Serve scattered over the dahl.

To make the curry, heat a small frying pan over a medium heat, add the cumin and coriander seeds and toast for 1 minute or until fragrant. Lightly grind using a pestle and mortar. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the onion and cook over a medium heat until tender but not coloured. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli and the spices and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.

Add the potatoes to the pan and stir to coat. Pour in the coconut milk, stock and tomatoes and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes before adding the cauliflower.

Cover and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes until the potato and cauliflower are tender and the sauce has thickened slightly. Add the beans and cook for 2–3 minutes. Season to taste, garnish with coriander and serve with the yellow dahl and brown rice.