Lentil and Cauliflower Dahl Curry Base


We are weeks into the Coronavirus lockdown and the one really good thing that has come out of all this is we are now eating as a family most days.

Before I would often feed the kids and then make something different for the adults in the evening. The challenge however then is to find food we all want to eat.

Neither girls  super picky on the fruit or veg front,  I have always cooked from scratch but I have definitely tended towards to pasta bolognaise, Macaroni cheese, Shepherds Pie , Roast Dinners and soups. There favourite tea is picnic tea; sandwiches, chopped up veg/fruit and some crisps.

To a certain extent I carried this on into lockdown, but with us all eating the same meal I was getting pretty bored of also quite bland food. I also realised I haven’t really been giving them enough credit or challenge, especially the 5 year old.

As I am also slightly bored on lockdown I thought would bring back to blog to document our adventures eating together

Nick and I love curry so this has been something I have been keen to crack with them. My eldest has often raved about schools “amazing chicken curry.”  I wanted to try them out with something mild and the youngest complains if things are “too tomatoey”  so I figured I would start with a dahl base.

The lentils and cauliflower give such a creamy rich taste you would think it had coconut cream or yogurt but it doesn’t need it. I would happily eat this as a dahl  but  as I was competing with schools chicken curry , I  thought I’d had better add some meat to ease the girls into it.

Lentil and Cauliflower Curry Base with Chicken

  • 100g of split red lentils
  • 1 large cauliflower roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp of garam masala
  • 1 tsp of mustard seeds or nigella
  • 1tbsp of tumeric
  • 1 large onion roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp of sunflower oil
  • 200g of chicken thighs / tofu/fish
  1. First fry half the spices in the oil, adding the garlic and onion.
  2. Add the lentil and cauliflower and 1.5 pints of water , cover and either simmer for 30 minutes ( or sneakily use the pressure cooker to have this done in 10 minutes). You can then leave this base til you are ready to use
  3. Fry your chicken /tofu in the remaining spices and add before serving. If you are using fish it can be stirred in as the curry sauce is warmed through and will cook

I have tended with the girls to put lots of bits on the table this seems to give them the illusion of some kind of control and means adults can get some spice into the dishes. As the girls are always reminding me – they have almost double the number of taste receptors adults do ( Thank you Operation Ouch – ) so it is worth erring on the side of caution.


To serve

  • chutney/pickle –  I used a homemade mango pickle ( it was super garlicky and had been in the fridge for over a year)  this adds the spiciness I crave that the kids can’t deal with.
  • coriander leaf – I am the only one in my family who likes coriander leaf so I am not “allowed” to add it to food.
  • toasted shredded coconut – toasted in a hot pan til just browning
  • yogurt – this help if it seems to “spicy” for the kids
  • kebab cabbage salad – this is just shredded cabbage , carrot and red onion which we have with everything at the moment.
  • homemade flatbread – loved by the kids , at 7 the eldest is getting pretty good at rolling it out for me.  Cooked this time in an oiled pan but these also work brilliantly on the BBQ. I am currently making a large batch of this dough which once proved for the first time I keep in the fridge
  • rice (or in this case wholegrain bulgar wheat)

Homemade Flatbread (makes 8 medium flatbreads)

  • 1/2 sachet of dried yeast
  • 500g of plain flour ( plus some extra to roll out)
  • pinch of salt
  • Lukewarm water to mix ( approx 150ml)
  • 1 tbsp of sunflower oil
  1. Mix together the flour , yeast, salt and oil.
  2. Add the warm water a little at a time to form a dough.
  3. knead the dough for a minute or so to bring it together and leave somewhere warmish for at least an hour.
  4. When ready roll into whatever size you want your breads, put on an oiled or floured tray til you have done as many as you need.
  5. To cook put the bread into  a very hot oiled pan cooking until browned and risen with bubbles on each side , usually just a few minutes either side


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