Just when the first buds dare to poke their heads above ground, the sun graces us with its presence for longer each day and nature starts to shrug off its wintery cloak, then, WHAM, Jack Frost cracks back into action and we're plummeted straight back into a chilly gloom. These are times that call for bowl food that cossets and comforts with its pillowy textures. That warms one through with gentle spices and a hint of chili.
For me, the one dish that is guaranteed to seep its warmth down into my very bones is dhal. My version would undoubtedly horrify the purist amongst you, however it's quick, uncomplicated and never fails to bring a much needed smile as a gentle fug fills the kitchen.
Dhal (serves 2)
125g red lentils
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1tsp ground turmeric
knob of fresh ginger, peeled and halved
sprinkling of cardamom seeds, crushed
1tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
zest and juice of 1 lime
2 large handfuls of spinach, washed
can chickpeas, drained
fresh coriander, chopped
1. Rinse the lentils, pop into a saucepan and cover with the water. Bring to the boil, skimming off any white foam that bubbles up.
2. Reduce to a simmer and add the bay leaf, garlic and ground spices. Stir and simmer for approximately 25 minutes with the lid on the pan. Add more water should it start to look a little dry,
3. Stir through the tomatoes, the zest and juice of the lime (I throw in the lime halves for added flavour).
4. After 10 minutes, stir in the spinach and chickpeas and cover the pan.
5. As soon as the spinach has wilted, turn off the heat, season with salt to taste and serve.
Comfort guaranteed and no need to dial for a take-away!