Coconut dal variations make leftovers fresh

Addie Broyles
Austin American-Statesman

When it comes to soups and stews, it’s handy to have a lentil or split pea recipe in your repertoire. When simmered over a long period of time, these high-fiber dried peas and lentils soften and transform into a nutrient-packed base for other ingredients, from garnishes and roasted vegetables to poached eggs or broiled tofu.

This version from Annie Bell uses yellow split peas and coconut milk in the base, and then she suggests a number of ways to serve it over several days. With these variations, dal is the kind of dish you can make on a Sunday night and eat throughout the week.

Coconut Dal

Note: Split peas are at their best when they are meltingly soft and tender; with long, slow simmering they will collapse into a puree of their own accord. But as it only takes minutes to ready for the stove, it is an easy one to cook if you have time. Personally, I love spinach and can never get enough, but this can be varied, or simply left out if you prefer. Some ways to keep this interesting: Serve with a poached egg in the middle, scattered with some of the shallots and chopped cilantro. Serve with a green salad and topped with some avocado. You could also puree the dal in a blender for a smooth soup, or in a food processor for a textured one, adding enough water or stock to achieve the right consistency. Play around with garnishes. I like to fry up some mushrooms in a little butter and oil and scatter over, then top with some of the shallots. — Annie Bell

11/2 cups dried yellow split peas

3/4 cup coconut milk

1 level teaspoon ground turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Sea salt

About 3 ounces baby spinach leaves

1 heaped teaspoon coconut oil

3 banana shallots, peeled, halved and finely sliced

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

1 garlic clove, peeled and finely grated

Lime wedges, to serve

Rinse the split peas in a sieve, then place them in a nonstick saucepan with 31/2 cups water and the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, skim off any foam, then stir in the turmeric and cayenne pepper. Cover with a lid, leaving a small gap for the steam to escape, and simmer over a low heat for 11/2 to 13/4 hours until the peas turn into a thick, textured puree. Start stirring them after about an hour, and every 10 minutes thereafter; toward the end, the puree will settle on the base and the liquid on the top. Add more water if the puree becomes too thick. Season with salt and stir in the spinach in two rounds.

Heat the coconut oil in a large, nonstick frying pan over a medium heat and fry the shallots for 7-9 minutes until golden, stirring frequently and adding the ginger and garlic a minute or so before the end. Stir half the shallots into the dal base, and scatter the rest over. Accompany with lime wedges. If reheating, add a little water to bring the dal back to the right consistency. Serves 4.

— From “Plant Power” by Annie Bell (Kyle Books, $24.48)