Michael Magazanik gets hungry. Aside from all the hours he puts in at the office, the journalist-turned-lawyer tries to exercise before work and usually heads out of town on the weekend. Swimming, cycling and orienteering are his favourite forms of self-abuse. So when he comes home, he needs something hearty and tasty to fill him up, and to keep him going. "I'm a pretty basic cook so this lentil dish suits me perfectly," he says.
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp chopped ginger
1 tsp black mustard seeds (optional)
1 bay leaf (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup red lentils
2 tsp curry powder
1 veggie stock cube in boiling water as per instructions on packet
1 cup chopped pumpkin or potato (optional)
1 small tin coconut milk (optional, for a richer, thicker taste)
2 cups chopped spinach
· Fry the onion, garlic, ginger, mustard seeds and bay leaf in the olive oil till onions are soft, then add the lentils and curry powder and fry for two minutes, stirring continually.
· Pour in stock liquid and add potatoes or pumpkin. Add the coconut milk.
· Cook for 40 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally, making sure the dahl doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Add more
water if required.
· Add chopped spinach at the end of the process and stir through for two minutes before removing from heat.
· Serve with yoghurt and chutney, if you like. Pappadams and flat bread work well also.
* Magazanik, a vegetarian, says he learned variations on the formula while trekking round Nepal. "Many Nepalis live on dahl. To spice it up they throw whatever's in the garden into the pot - spinachy-like green stuff is a favourite.
** This recipe appeared in an Epicure cover story "It's so easy ... really" in November 2005.