Rooty Indian Dal

by Julia Recker
I found love for indian food last year in april. 

I was travelling with friends in New Zealand, it was Easter and we experienced some difficulties in finding available rooms because all the hostels were fully booked. We never had problems with that but around Easter the island was crowded with tourists. After spending one night at an entirely dirty (oh gosh, we spent hours cleaning the kitchen before cooking and messing it up again.. :D) and empty apartment (apart from a huge TV, some vintage surf boards and a carefully and well arranged collection of weed) of (weird but still kind and helpful) people we had met that day at the beach, we were lucky to come across a lovely B&B called ‚Strawberry Fields‘ which was managed by Sandy, a gentle lady in her mid-fifties with unnatural blond hair and small glasses. We enjoyed the clean apartment, hot shower, fluffy towels and pillows and extended walks at the Bay of Islands. 
Coincidental, we found a cozy indian restaurant and spontaneously decided to celebrate Easter night and the get-together of the three of us in this beautiful and colorful oriental temple. At first I was quite skeptical if I would like the indian food that I imagined as traditionally low in texture contrasts and variety. Accordingly big was the surprise that I actually liked the mashy consistency of the food a lot. We spent a memorable evening in the restaurant sharing different plates of various indian specialties and discovering the wealth of indian spices, flavors and smells. I have the impression that those indian delights not only bring nourishing food on the plate but also come with this scent of ancient indian wisdom that leaves a smiling belly.
This (for me) first encounter with the indian cuisine grew into a particular tradition I have with my boyfriend. We found a great little indian restaurant here in the Netherlands and when he can manage to visit me we pick one evening and immerse into the indian bubble which always brings us back to New Zealand, where our story began.
However, I never dared to try any indian dish myself. This kitchen is so far from my standard dishes that I did not feel comfortable to just try it without deeper understanding of the concept. Big mistake!  
I tried my first indian dish two weeks ago and so far I cooked it already 2 more times. When my boyfriend came to my place last week we ended up having a cozy indian dinner on my floor instead of going to our favorite restaurant. And it truly was incredibly delicious! (Nevertheless I’m looking forward to go to that special place again! ;))
I developed this recipe inspired by this version of Luise and David of the lovely greenkitchenstories.
It contains spices that are typically used in the indian kitchen and boost your immune system. Ginger, cardamom, turmeric and garlic make a wonderful combination and color the dal bright orange. Sweetness is often added by using dried fruit, for this meal I chose dried banana which I find goes perfectly with the spicy mixture and adds more creaminess to the dish. The original recipe uses only carrots but I had beetroot on hand and was curious about the color it might give so I just included it, happy with the juiciness and earthy note it contributes. 
This meal is actually health promoting and for me already a basic for the colder months!

Rooty Indian Dal

serves 2 big portions

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 mid-sized onion
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 tsp cardamom, powdered or in pieces
1 tsp turmeric
1 handful dried banana

2 mid-sized carrots
1 beetroot
1 cup red lentils
1 handful fresh baby spinach
1 handful sun-dried tomatoes 
sea salt

optional: plant-based yoghurt, 1 handful baby spinach and diverse sprouts for a side salad
Slice onion, grate ginger, garlic and chop cardamom if you work with whole pieces. Melt coconut oil in a cooking pan and roast all the spices and the dried banana gently under stirring. Peel and grate carrots and beetroot and add to the pan. Mix well and add one cup of red lentils. Cover with water and add some salt. Let simmer at medium temperature for about 30 minutes until lentils are smooth and give a creamy and stew-ish consistency. Stir every now and then and add some more water if required. Remove pan from the heat and add spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. Stir again and adjust the taste with salt. 
Place on a serving plate or bowl. If you’re craving for something crunchy and a contrast in color, serve spinach and sprouts with vegan yoghurt as side salad. Leftovers can be consumed until two days later, cold or heated up, taste at least as good as freshly prepared and even work brilliant as spread.

Enjoy the colors and taste of autumn!
Lina, we miss you!


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