- 150g red lentils
- 2 aubergines
- 1 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- A thumb of ginger
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cloves
- 6 curry leaves
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 100g baby leaf spinach
- 75g brown basmati rice
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 150ml + 500ml boiling water
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
Heat your oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Tip the lentils into a bowl. Cover with cold water and leave to soak. Tip the rice into a bowl and cover with cold water. Stir for a few mins till the water goes cloudy, then drain.
Halve the aubergines and slice lengthways into thick wedges. Place them in a roasting tin and brush with 1 tsp oil. Season and roast for 30 mins till tender and charred.
Tip the rice into a small pan. Add 150ml boiling water and a pinch of salt. Cover. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 25 mins till the rice is tender and the water has been absorbed. Take off the heat. Leave to steam and keep warm in the pan.
Peel and finely chop the onion. Peel and grate the garlic and ginger. Crumble the stock cube into a heatproof measuring jug. Pour in 500ml boiling water to dissolve.
Add the onion to a medium pan with a good splash of water. Season well. Cook over a medium heat for 5 mins till the onion is glossy. Stir often while it cooks.
Stir in the garlic and ginger. Add the cinnamon stick, 4 cloves, 6 curry leaves and 1 tsp turmeric. Mix well.
Drain the lentils and add to the pan. Pour in the vegetable stock. Cover and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 25-30 mins, stirring now and then, till the lentils are thick.
Taste the daal and adjust the seasoning. Fish out any spices you can see, like the cinnamon stick or cloves. Take the aubergine out of the oven. Roughly chop the wedges and stir them into the daal.
Stir in the spinach so it just wilts. Ladle the rice and daal into warm bowls and serve straight away.
Golden turmeric adds a bright hue to all sorts of foods (and fingers – a little rub of lemon juice will sort that out). Use it to make a pilau rice to go with curries. Stir a pinch into rice and cook with some stock or water, diced onions, peppers and mushrooms and your remaining cinnamon stick and cloves.