Thanks to Irene Beahan of The Society's Information Systems Team for this Indian-influenced idea, based on contrasting textures. Thick, soupy dhal is spooned over nutty basmati rice and topped with minced leftover lamb or beef that has been fried with chopped onions fresh chillies until really crisp. Remove or retain as many of the chilli seeds as seems right, bearing in mind that the hotter the dish is, the less wine-friendly it will be. Frankly we don't sell wine so bad it needs neutralised taste buds!
Wine Recommendation: Villiera Estate Gewurztraminer can handle a modicum of spice. Red wine lovers might try Momo Vendimia Seleccionada, Ribero del Duero
- A mug of dried red lentils
- 2 onions, one thinly sliced, the other chopped
- Groundnut oil for frying
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 250g cooked beef or lamb
- 1 fresh red or green chilli, sliced, with or without seeds
- 150g basmati rice
- fresh coriander leaves to serve (optional)
Wash the red lentils generously until the water is clear. Place in a small saucepan, and add enough water to cover the lentils by about ½ inch. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to as low as possible. Cover the pan and cook undisturbed for approximately 40-60m, or until the lentils are thoroughly cooked. Test them by stirring gently with a wooden spoon. They should appear dry, and if some of them have stuck to the bottom of the pan, that's a good sign. While the lentils are cooking, fry half the sliced onion in oil until the slices are golden brown. Set aside, oil and all.
Spoon the cooked lentils into a larger pan (we will be adding water) and use your wooden spoon to mix vigorously until the lentils have become soft and creamy. Now start to add water, a little at a time, mixing continuously, until you have the consistency of a thickish soup. Put the pan on the heat, add salt to taste, and add the onions, along with a little of the frying oil (not very good for your weight I hear you say, but it's Christmas) and bring to the boil mixing all the time. This can now be turned off the heat and reheated when the rest of the dish is ready.
Cook the basmati rice according your best tried and trusted method. Mince the beef or lamb using an old fashioned mincer if you have one. Heat a little oil in a pan and fry the remaining half of the sliced onion until brown. This time, no oil should remain in the pan. The aim is a really crisp texture, not a mush, so if some remains, remove the onions, drain them on kitchen paper and wipe the pan clean with kitchen paper before proceeding. Return the onions to the pan. Now add the chopped onion and the minced meat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add the sliced chilli. Fry until brown and crisp. Keep warm while you gently reheat the dhal.
To serve, spoon the dhal over the rice, and top with the mince. Garnish if you like with a few coriander leaves for a touch of winter green to complement the chilli.