Have you ever microwaved a Mini Babybel? I bet you haven’t but it’s amazing. Remarkably though, I’m not a fan of a chilled Babybel which could explain my mad teenage invention in the first place. Five to seven seconds is all it takes to turn a seemingly regular mini cheese, into something wonderful and before I know it, I’m savagely ripping open the second net of cheeses like an animal.
It’s not just me that has an appreciation for this method of eating Baybel’s, my best friend Philippa also shares my dirty cheesy secret. She reminded me last weekend.
“Hey, remember microwaved mini Babybel?”
“OH MY GOD YES! Microwaved BabyBel!… Have you got any?”
“No. Forgot to buy some”
“What the hell?! Don’t tempt if you haven’t got any!” I rage, downing my fifth prosecco and heading for the fridge to stare at the empty cheese tray.
“Soz” she says, rather unapologetically. She taps her phone and puts on Sir Mixalot’s ‘Baby Got Back’. We swiftly forget all about Babybel’s and start vigorously thrusting and dancing around the kitchen.
Anyway, we can’t live off microwaved Baybels can we… Can we? No, no we can’t, we need to eat sensible dinners like this rather delightful dhal recipe. Although with all this talk of Babybel’s, I wouldn’t’ be surprised if I found you all submerging mini cheeses into your dhal. The heart wants what it wants, just remember to peel the wax off first.
Coconut Dhal with Homemade Flatbreads
Serves 4 / Take 50 minutes / Vegan
1 tsp of oil (I use coconut oil but vegetable, rapeseed, sunflower or even butter will do)
2 onions, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves or 4 small, crushed
Knob of ginger, grated
4 cardamon pods, shelled
Half tsp mustard seeds
Half tsp garam masala
Half tsp cumin
Half tsp turmeric
Pinch of chilli flakes
1 litre of vegetable stock (2 stock cubes)
300g of red lentils
Can of coconut milk
Big pinch of salt
200g bag of spinach
2 corn on the cobs
Coconut cream to serve
170g wholemeal flour + extra for dusting
Half tsp salt
Half tsp mustard seeds
Handful chopped coriander
1 Tbs sunflower oil
1 mug of brown basmati rice to serve
TIP: If you’re after something a little less fussy and time consuming, simply make the dhal and serve with warm shop bought flatbreads. Leave out steps 1, 6, 7, 8 and 9.
1. If you’re making rice then put this on first. I use brown basmati rice. Pour 1 mug of rice into a large saucepan and fill with double the amount of cold water (this is enough for four people). Season with salt, cover and bring to the boil. Once boiling, bring it down to a simmer, cover again for around 15 minutes or until the water has absorbed. Take off the heat, cover and leave to one side. The rice will continue cooking with the lid on and should be perfect by the time you finish your Dahl.
2. Start the Dahl by peeling and chopping your onions nice and small. Put them in a large pot with a teaspoon of coconut oil on a medium heat until soft (this should take 5 – 10 minutes). If the onions start looking a little brown, add a touch of water to prevent them from burning, this will help them steam.
3. In a pestle and mortar or using the back of a tablespoon on a chopping board, crush your cardamon pods until the seeds spill out, discard the shells and put the seeds to one side.
4. Once the onions are soft, add the crushed garlic, grated ginger and all the spices (half a teaspoon of cumin, turmeric, mustard seeds, garam masala, a pinch of chilli flakes, cardamon and salt). Give it a good stir and continue to cook for a couple of minutes.
5. Add a litre of vegetable stock, a can of coconut milk and the lentils and give it a good stir. Bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat and simmer for 25 – 30 minutes stirring regularly to prevent the lentils sticking to the bottom of your pot.
6. If you’re making your own flatbreads, now is a good time to start them. If not and you’ve bought some lovely ones from a shop, skip to number 8.
7. In a mixing bowl, measure 170g of wholemeal flour and add half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of mustard seeds. Chop a handful of fresh coriander and add it to the dry mixture and give it all a good stir with a wooden spoon. Once incorporated, add the water and the oil. Stir again until you have a smooth dough, (it will be a little wet). Put to one side and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Once rested, dust a surface down with a bit of wholemeal flour and divide your dough into four balls. Roll each individual ball into a thin disk remembering to flour your surface between each flatbread rolling. Heat a dry, non-stick pan on a medium to high heat and add one flatbread at a time and cook for a minute on each side until, they have a bit of colour. Transfer to a plate and keep them warm in an oven at 50°C.
8. Place your corns into a large saucepan and cover with boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes, remove carefully and pop them onto a clean tea towel to cool down a bit. Whilst the corn is cooling, wilt down your spinach in a separate saucepan a couple of handfuls at a time in a bit of coconut oil, adding a little salt and pepper as you go. Do this on a low to medium heat, you only really want to wilt the spinach. Once it is all wilted (you’ll be surprised how little you get from an entire bag) take off the heat and cover with a lid to keep warm. Put to one side and discard any excess water from the spinach.
9. By now your corn should be cool enough to handle so carefully impale each corn on the end of a fork and hold over an open flame on the hob one at a time, turning carefully. This will give your corn a lovely charred look and taste. (This is entirely optional, cooked corn on it’s own will do just fine, I just like to char mine). Alternatively, if you don’t have a gas cooker, you can pop both corns under the grill and turn every couple of minutes until charred.
One at a time, stand up your corn on a chopping board and slice carefully down the sides with a sharp knife removing the kernels.
10. By now your dhal and your rice should be cooked, hooray! Take the dhal off the heat and give it a good mix to loosen it up a bit. Spoon the rice into a bowl, followed by a generous helping of dhal and top with a spoonful of spinach and charred corn kernels. Serve with a dollop of coconut cream, a sprinkle of freshly chopped coriander and the flatbreads.
If you’ve had a go at making my dhal or any of my other recipes I’d love to hear about it. @corrieheale firstname.lastname@example.org