Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Broccoli dal

This may not look like the most attractive meal in the world although it's delicious flavour has been enough to warrant this being repeated several times and that's saying a lot in this house! The concept of a creamy broccoli dal in Vegan Yum Yum interested me when I first purchased the book even though the amount of spices seemed lacking. I originally trialled the recipe with double the amount of spices which was nice yet I felt it could use some further improvement and began tinkering further.

During my second attempt, I discovered that my cumin seeds had run out. I used ground cumin instead and was on a kalonji/nigella seed craze at the time and added some as well. As you can see from the photo, I'm still hooked on these tasty seeds and also find them to be a tasty addition to saffron rice. I wasn't expecting the meal to be such a hit because a plate of dal doesn't usually excite the others as much as me. I didn't record quantities of ingredients used that time and it's been a challenge to win them over with this meal since.

It has taken a few attempts to rediscover the version that wowed my dal sceptics and I still received minor criticism this time that the broccoli to dal ratio was slightly low which was most likely due to using small heads of broccoli. My recommendation is to use medium or large sized heads of broccoli in order for the broccoli to work it's magic into this meal. Other notable tweaks I have made to the original recipe include the addition of some ground coriander and using blended cashews in place of soy milk to provide a thicker creamier texture. I also prefer to throw roughly chopped broccoli in the pot and blend the whole lot briefly at the end rather than finely chopping the broccoli at the start and serving the dal in a chunkier style.

The recipe below makes a decent sized pot of dal which would be enough to feed four without a side dish. I've been in the habit of making at least 2 curries when we have Indian food so there are always heaps of leftovers, as they reheat wonderfully and taste even better after the flavours have had a chance to meld further. We enjoyed broccoli dal on this occasion with spiced vegetable patties from Holy Cow and have previously loved it with "butter chicken" too.

Broccoli dal (Adapted from Vegan Yum Yum)

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoon kalonji/nigella seeds
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon Indian chilli powder/cayenne pepper
1 cup red lentils
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 medium-sized heads of broccoli
1/2 cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Heat the peanut oil in a large saucepan and add the black mustard and kalonji seeds. When the seeds begin to sizzle, stir through the onion and cook over a medium heat for a few minutes until softened. Add the garlic and stir for a minute, then add the turmeric, coriander, cumin and cayenne pepper. After another minute, stir through the lentils then pour in the water. Add the salt and roughly chopped broccoli stalks and florets to the pot. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the lentils are soft, about 20-25 minutes.

Transfer the contents of the saucepan into a blender. Process the mixture and when the broccoli has broken down, pour everything back into the saucepan and return to low heat. Rinse out the blender and add the cashews with the water. Blend the cashews until they become smooth and creamy and pour this into the saucepan. Add the garam masala, lemon juice and additional seasoning, to taste.


  1. Oh Mel, how I am laughing...I made a green split pea dhal on the weekend which was less sophisticated than yours (no mustard or nigella seeds to be found :-) ) but had similar flavours, and it looked so horrible that I couldn't work out how to photograph it. It tasted good though, and I have every faith that this would taste even better. Sometimes you have to look past appearances!

    I really like the idea of using broccoli and also cashew for creaminess...those spiced vegetable patties look great too.

    1. It's such a shame when something tastes so good and is hard to capture in a photo. Dal seems to be one of those things, for me anyway as I have seen some lovely dal shots out there.

  2. I've had my eye on this in vegan yum yum so am interested that you found it lacking in apice - I have found this too with some things I have made - like your way of blending the broccoli too - and I sympathise with you re the look of it - I have made broccoli soups expecting them to be lovely and green but they lose their colour really quickly

    1. The original recipe might be the right amount of spice for you although Ashley from eatmedelicious also found the original a bit bland. The colour wasn't a bit issue for me, I'm just frustrated with dal photos as I love eating it so much and never seem to take a good pic.

  3. I'm not the biggest dal fan, but I can get behind the addition of broccoli! Sounds so much fresher and richer--definitely adding it to my list.

    1. The man isn't the biggest dal fan either, he always appreciates ones that include a vegetable in them a lot more.

  4. I made the Vegan Yum Yum broccoli dal a few nights ago :) It's been on regular rotation at my place for the past year or so. Cheap, tasty, quick and healthy. Such a winner!

    1. Thanks for stopping by me. Broccoli dal is a great meal, good to hear that you like the original!