Tart London aubergine dal recipe with sides and toppings

A wonderful dish for a crowd, and if you use vegetable stock it’s fully vegetarian. Make a quarter of the amount of just the aubergine dal recipe for a quick weeknight dinner for two, or go the whole hog with all the sides if entertaining. In India the dal is often a side dish, but here it is very happily the main event. And actually these sides are quick and easy and really do make a difference. You can always add a serving of rice as well if you like.

Laura Edwards

SERVES 6–8

1 tbsp coconut oil
2 onions, chopped
5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1–3 bird’s eye chillies (depending on how hot you like it), deseeded and chopped
20 curry leaves
large bunch of coriander, stalks chopped and leaves kept whole
1 tbsp ground turmeric
1 large aubergine, cubed
handful of dried apricots, chopped
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
350g lentils (use a mixture of red, orange and yellow and soak and drain them according to the packet beforehand)
squeeze of honey (optional)
salt and pepper

FOR THE GREEN CHUTNEY
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
5 tbsp yoghurt
small bunch of coriander
small bunch of mint
1 lime, zest and juice

FOR THE CRISPY CAULIFLOWER
1 good-sized whole cauliflower
drizzle of olive oil
1–2 tsp each coriander and cumin seeds, crushed
2 cloves garlic, crushed

FOR THE DOSA
100g chickpea (gram) flour
200ml water
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cumin seeds
a little coconut oil

FOR THE CRUNCHY SALAD
½ cucumber, peeled and seeds scooped out, then roughly chopped
1 red chilli, sliced
2 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 small red onion, diced
handful of mint and coriander leaves
juice of 1 lime
good drizzle of olive oil

FOR THE TARKA TOPPING
1 tbsp coconut oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced into
thin chips
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds
1 large red chilli, thinly sliced
small bunch of curry leaves

1. Heat the coconut oil in a large pan and cook the onions, ginger, garlic and cinnamon over
a low heat until the onions are translucent. Increase the heat then add the cumin and coriander seeds, bird’s eye chillies, curry leaves and chopped coriander stalks, and fry for a good 5 minutes, stirring to stop it catching.
2. Next add the turmeric, aubergine and apricots and cook for a further 5 minutes, allowing the aubergine to caramelise a little, followed by the tomatoes, coconut milk, stock and lentils. Leave to simmer for 45 minutes, then taste and season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of honey, if desired.
3. When you are almost ready to serve,
make up the tarka for the top of the dal.
Melt the coconut oil in a pan and add the garlic, cumin seeds, nigella seeds, chilli and curry leaves. Cook over a low heat, stirring, until the garlic turns golden. Add this, still sizzling, to the top of the dal. Scatter the dal with the coriander leaves and serve.

SAVE 20 PER CENT ON LUCY AND JEMMA’S NEW BOOK

Love of Eating will be published on 12 April by Square Peg, price £25. Lucy Carr-Ellison and Jemima Jones are the founders of Tart London, a boutique-style catering company that provides healthy and delicious on-site cooking for fashion and film shoots and private events. Lucy and Jemima also write a weekly recipe column (see standard.co.uk) and are currently planning the opening of their own restaurant, scheduled for this summer – one to watch! As well as their personal stories and advice on menu planning, the book includes more than 100 brilliant, must-make recipes in their signature style. To order a copy for £20 until 22 April, visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640; p&p is free on orders over £15.