I'm sure I've heard Zainab Massood mentioning Channa Daal on EastEnders but that was all I knew about this Pakistani dish, so I was keen to see what we'd think. The recipe is available on the Kitchen Nomad website but as they say, there are numerous variations of daals and you should try to cook a few to find your own.
The star ingredient is the packet of Chana Dal from the Kitchen Nomad box. It is made from splitting in half a smaller relative of the chickpea and it reminds me very much of orange lentils. It has a mild, slightly nutty flavour and keeps nice and firm, rather than turning to mush.
Other ingredients needed from the box were Chaat Masala seasoning, a stick of cinnamon, chilli powder and cumin seeds.
I also discovered curry leaves, which was a first for me. They are the aromatic leaves of a tree from the citrus fruit family that release a deliciously nutty aroma when fried in hot oil. Curry leaves are often used in Asian cuisine in the same way as bay leaves are used in the West.
I fell at the first hurdle the first time I wanted to make this because I hadn't noticed that the channa daal needed to be soaked overnight. The next day, we were ready to go though !
After bringing it to the boil and adding the garlic and spices, it releases a lot of starch. I have to say, it doesn't look very appetising at this stage because of this !
After 20 minutes, the channa daal is tooth tender and has soaked up all the lovely flavours from the cinnamon and chilli. I prepared some fried onions in a separate pan, sizzled the curry leaves and cumin seeds in hot oil and chopped up some fresh coriander.
All that was left was to throw it all into a bowl with the onions and spices on top then sprinkle over fresh coriander.
This is designed as a main meal with rice but I knew Madhouse Daddy would complain if he didn't have something meaty to get his teeth into, so I used it as an accompaniment with some steak which worked really well too. It has a lovely nutty flavour, an interesting texture and a mild level of spiciness so even the kids liked it. There's a bit leftover and Madhouse Daddy will be adding it to the homemade vegetable soup that he has planned for tonight, to add some extra flavour and bulk. (Nothing goes to waste in our house !)
Disclosure : I received a discounted Kitchen Nomad subscription in order to keep you up to date with their latest boxes.
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