Lemon Dhal

I don’t know how it is with you at approximately first day back to work in early January, but for me, it feels like a long goodbye to the things that I love the most like Blackbomber Cheddar, Christmas lights, Neal’s Yard Dairy Stichelton and See’s Candy Maple Walnut chocolates. But it’s not a very sad farewell, because in actual fact, there’s still cheese in the fridge and chocolates in the drawer; it’s more like an emotional, psychological wrench from eating what ever I want, whenever I want.  And let’s all just admit it that while it’s great to indulge, there’s also something comforting about a return to order when it comes to daily eating habits.

When I’m back on the road to culinary recovery, my daily eating habits consist of a light breakfast and a lunch of salad, dhal or vegetable curry, made with whatever I happen to have in my fridge. That way, I know there’s still room for a hearty dinner with the boys, and a little snack afterwards if I fancy, and I can rest assured knowing I’m getting good nutrition. While I like the basic principles of low-carb eating, I don’t subscribe to anything with strict rules because that’s pretty well a guaranteed path to failure.

But let’s not talk like that, because food isn’t about failing, it’s about winning; making choices that taste good and make you feel good long after the flavour leaves your mouth. This recipe is ideal for early January winning. It’s cheap, filling, nutritious, easy to make and its light, mild flavour is the perfect foil for all the culinary riches of December. You could add any extras you like including petit pois or diced carrot if you’d like to bulk it up a little. It might be counterintuitive to use more oil than absolutely necessary, but in order to increase the bioavailability (access the benefits) of turmeric, you need three things; 1) healthy fats, black pepper and 3) heat. So you could say this recipe is the Wonder Woman of your January eating plan.

Lemon Dhal Recipe

2-3 tsp olive oil
1 leek/onion (sliced)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
juice of 1 lemon
250g split red lentils
1-2 cups of baby spinach leaves (or 3-4 pucks of frozen chopped spinach
1 chicken or vegetable stock pod
Season with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.

Saute the leek/onion in the oil and then add the spices, stir for a minute or so and then add the lemon juice.
Add about 1.5 litres of water, lentils and the stock cube, and simmer for about half an hour.
Add your spinach and keep simmering until that’s cooked/defrosted/heated through. Serve with a drizzle of your best extra virgin olive oil and black pepper.