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  • Simon Conyers

Chana Dal with Chickpeas and Roasted Auergines

This dish came about fairly recently when being in lockdown made me have a look at what I had in the cupboard that needed using. I don't know how long the chana dal (yellow split peas) had been there, but I think at least a year. It's one of those dishes where I just made it up as I went along, and it came out so great I immediately had to sit down and try to remember everything I'd done so I could write it down and make it the same next time.

If you're not vegan or veggie, you can replace the veg stock with chicken stock for more depth of flavour, and it makes a fantastic accompaniment to marinated lamb chops.

Recipe (serves 4):

200g dried chana dal (yellow split peas)

1 tin of chick peas

2 aubergines

1 tablespoon dried peri peri chillis (or any dried chilli, or chilli flakes)

1 tablespoon cumin seeds - pounded in a pestle and mortar or blitzed in a spice blender

1 tablespoon garam masala

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 red onions

150ml veg oil

1 tablespoon ginger paste or grated ginger

1 tables spoon garlic paste or grated garlic

3 cloves of garlic

2 litre veg or chicken stock

A couple of big handfuls shredded kale of baby leaf spinach


1. Prepare your chana dal - wash repeatedly until the water runs clear, then soak in clean water for at least 30 minutes. Drain, rinse, and add it to a heavy based pan with the veg stock. Bring to the boil and keep it there for around 10 minutes, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Add the 3 garlic cloves and the dried chillis, and cook over a low heat for around 40 minutes - you're looking for most of the liquid to have evaporated or been absorbed by the dal.

2. Cut your aubergines into rough pieces around the size of your thumb. Toss in 50ml of the veg oil, sprinkle with half the crushed cumin seeds and season with a pinch of salt and some cracked black pepper.

Lay them out on a baking tray and cook in a low oven (around 160c) for 25 - 30 minutes.

Set aside.

3. Heat 50ml oil in second pan over a medium flame. Add one of the onions, finely diced, the garlic and ginger pastes, and cook gently for a few minutes. Add half of the cumin seeds and all of the garam masala and turmeric. continue to cook for another couple of minutes - this should give you a thick paste that will form the flavour base for the dish. Set aside.

4. Slice the remaining red onion and fry it in the remaining oil. When it softens, add your spice paste, then your cooked chana dal, half of the cooked aubergines, the tin of chick peas (drained) and cook for a few minutes while stirring. Add your kale or spinach, give it a stir and allow it to wilt in the heat (do not overcook here or you will lose the colour in the greens)

Serve, topped with the remaining aubergines.

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