Creamy daal with roast mushrooms & coriander-ginger salsa

Lentils are a highly nutritious protein source. Studies suggest that eating them regularly could help reduce our risk of chronic diseases including obesity, type two diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This may be partly due to their high polyphenol (a type of health-promoting plant chemical) content, as phenols have potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The micronutrients lentils provide (think B1, folate, iron, magnesium, zinc and potassium) may also support heart health by improving cholesterol and triglyceride levels, promoting healthy blood pressure and weight and reducing homocysteine.

They are a great source of prebiotic fibre to feed those friendly gut microbes, support regular bowel movements and increase faecal bulk (a good thing for gut health!). This could even help reduce our risk of bowel cancer.

The polyphenols and fibre content (which makes lentils fairly low GI) can both contribute to healthy blood sugar levels and weight management, reducing over-eating.

Top tips:

  1. Combine lentils with grains such as rice or wheat for a ‘complete’ protein source.
  2. Soak (and discard the soaking water), rinse and cook your lentils well to minimise the anti-nutrients they contain. Lectins, phtates, trypsin inhibitors and tannins in lentils can all impair mineral absorption (and protein, in the case of trypsin inhibitors) though this shouldn’t prevent us eating them!

Serves 2

Ingredients

100g red lentils, rinsed well
400g can green lentils, drained & rinsed
1 can full fat coconut milk
3 cloves garlic, grated
15g root ginger, grated
2 red onions, thinly sliced
3 large portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tbsp ready-made curry paste (we used rogan josh)
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
20g fresh coriander, chopped
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp maple or honey

Method

1. Fry half the onion in a slug of olive or coconut oil, over a medium heat, for 10 minutes (or until softened).
2. Add the curry paste and half the garlic to the onion pan and cook for 2 minutes, before adding both types of lentil for a further 2 minutes.
3. Pop the mushroom slices and remaining onion on a baking tray, drizzle with oil, and roast at 200C fan for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
4. Meanwhile, add the coconut milk and stock cube to the lentils and cook for 20 minutes, covered but checking and stirring frequently, until the lentils have cooked down and the sauce thickened.
5. While the lentils and mushrooms are cooking, grind together the remaining garlic, ginger, chilli and coriander in a pestle and mortar. Season with salt.
6. Add the lime juice, maple and olive oil and mix well.
7. Serve the daal in bowls with the roast mushrooms and coriander-ginger chutney on top, alongside rice or – for more plant points and nutrients – mixed roast root veg.

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