Lynn’s yellow split pea dal

Are yellow split peas chana, or something else? I always thought chana meant chickpeas, so I’ve gone with the full English description, but I’m happy to be corrected. Having read several recipes for dal, I took inspiration from Madhur Jaffrey’s seminal work “Indian Cookery” for the techniques and then just used the spices and ingredients we had in the cupboard.

  • 250g yellow split peas
  • 1 litre water
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter), or neutral vegetable oil if you want it vegan
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 dessertspoon lazy chili
  • 1 dessertspoon lazy garlic
  • 1 dessertspoon lazy ginger
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds or cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion or 2 banana shallots, cut in half and chopped into thin half-moon slices
  • Salt to taste

Rinse the split peas well in cold water, then put in a saucepan and cover with 1 litre of cold water.  This will seem way too much, but you’ll be surprised at how much the peas absorb as they cook.  I don’t put salt in the water as it sometimes makes the peas tough, and you want them to be mushy and creamy. Bring to the boil and simmer for about an hour on a low heat.  If it looks like the water is all absorbed, add a bit more.  Stir it occasionally and, if you’re feeling energetic, mush the split peas against the side of the pan as they break up.

Take the split peas off the heat and leave to one side.  In a frying pan, heat up the ghee or oil and add the mustard or cumin seeds and move them about until they start to pop.  Then turn down the heat a bit, and add all the other ingredients except the salt.  Stir it all about and let the onions/shallots cook until they are soft and slightly catching at the edges.  Add the split peas to the frying pan and stir through the onion/shallot mixture, until the mixture is bubbling. Add salt to taste. If it looks too dry and solid, add a couple of spoonfuls of boiling water.  It should be a soothing, creamy, slightly sloppy mixture.  Serve it hot.

This dal works as an accompaniment to other curry dishes, and if you use neutral vegetable oil it is vegan. It becomes a complete meal if you serve it with rice and a hard boiled egg.  If you find you have some left over, it keeps well in the fridge for a few days in a covered container. You may need to add more water when you reheat it to get the creamy texture back.

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Coconut lemon drizzle cake

A vegan cake I’ve been trying to get right – and this is pretty much OK, but it still looks really odd when you’re mixing the batter!  Adding coconut flour means it soaks up way more moisture than if you were using just self raising flour.

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 100g coconut flour
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 100g coconut oil, melted
  • 1x 330ml can of ginger beer or lemonade
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Melt the coconut oil gently, and set aside to cool a little.  Put all the dry ingredients in a big bowl with the lemon zest, and mix them thoroughly.  Put the melted coconut oil, the ginger beer and the lemon juice in another bowl and whisk them together, briefly, so that there are still bubbles from the ginger beer in the mix.  Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix them until it all comes together into a strangely fizzy and slightly grainy batter. If the batter looks a bit too dense, add a bit more water.  Speed is of the essence here, as you’re using some of the fizz in the ginger beer as a raising agent.  Put the cake batter into a greased 8 inch round cake tin. I use a silicone one for this recipe as it’s very easy to turn out.  Bake in a fan oven at 175 degrees C for about 35 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean.  If it looks like it’s getting too brown round the edges, turn down the heat to 165 degrees and bake it for an extra 10 minutes.

Turn out the cake onto a cooling rack while you prepare the icing.

150g icing sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Mix together the icing sugar and lemon juice to make a runny icing.    Poke the top of the cake with a skewer in several places, then carefully spoon half the icing over the cake. Most recipes will tell you to wait until the cake is cool before doing this, but if you do it while it’s still a bit warm, the icing will sink into the cake and make it much more moist and sticky.
When the cake has fully cooled, put it on a pretty serving plate and spoon the other half of the icing over it.  You can get fancy now and make the icing drip down the sides.