{Recipe} Tarka Dahl

Winter is coming……

On Saturday, we plunged into winter.

I rummaged through my cupboard until I found a cardigan, and I dug out a pair of socks (for the first time since spring). The rain was incessant. I loved every minute of it!

By Sunday morning, Autumn had returned.

Today’s recipe is perfect for a wintery day.


Yellow split peas

Dahl is a staple in our house. The dahl-making is left in Mat’s capable hands. We have clear divisions of labour in our household – he is the dahl maker and I am the cake baker.  I never cook dahl, and he never bakes cakes. We work to our strengths.


Tarka dahl (dal) is a current favourite. The recipe consists of yellow split peas, cumin, ginger, garlic, coriander, black pepper, and garam masala.

The recipe is available here.


Sprouted green lentils


Occasionally, Mat varies the recipe by using sprouted green lentils (instead of split peas), and by adding vegetables such as pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, or potato.

Mat serves Tarka Dahl with basmati rice or brown rice. Don’t forget the mango chutney!


Tarka Dahl made with sprouted green lentils & vegetables

Are you a winter person like me? or do you prefer the heat? What is your favourite winter indulgence?
Each Monday, I feature a delicious vegan recipe that is adored by my own family. I hope your family adores it too.


{Recipe} Chickpea Curry | Tofu and Coconut Curry

Back in the mid-90’s when I was a uni student and a ‘pescy-vegetarian’ living in Sydney, I frequently ate at cheap and cheerful Indian food establishments.

With names like North Indian Diner and Tandoori Palace, this type of eatery presents the curries in bain-maries, ready to be slopped on to a large plate with rice. A garlic naan or a couple of pappadums would complete the meal. I only required a $10 note to access this comfort-food indulgence (and I usually left with change). Once I became vegan, I ditched the cream-laden curries, but continued to enjoy the (small) range of vegan offerings.

Growing up in Sydney, I was fortunate to have access to great Indian food (beyond the cheap and cheerful places!). My mum exposed my sister and I to foods from many cultures – both in our own kitchen and at local restaurants.

I indulged in delicious Indian food in Malaysia when I holidayed there in the late 90’s. I can’t even recall what I ate (maybe Susykat can help me out here!), but I do remember that it was totally scrumptious (and vegan).

I adore lentils and chickpeas, potatoes and eggplant. I particularly appreciate them teamed with the flavoursome spices that make Indian food so tantalising – cumin, ginger, cardamon, coriander, asafoetida, cinnamon, mustard seeds, and the rest!

Today’s recipes

I recently discovered the blog, Soul of Spice. If you are a fan of Indian food, you will adore this blog. I have fallen in love with the Kala Channa recipe. The combination of cayenne pepper, garlic, freshly grated ginger, cumin seeds, turmeric, asafoetida, and fresh tomato is spectacular.

‘Kala channa’ refers to small, brown chickpeas. For this recipe, I use the variety of chickpeas that is commonly available in my neck of the woods – small, pale brown, dried chickpeas. chickpea1

The recipe is available here.

This recipe requires a half teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  Although I prefer a ‘heaped half teaspoon’ version, with a big dollop of coconut yoghurt to relieve the spice edge, I only use a quarter teaspoon when preparing it for the whole family. Additionally, I use a medium-sized tomato (which is slightly more than the 1/2 cup of tomato specified), and I add the garlic and ginger once the onion is cooked.


Last week, I served the chickpea curry with basmati rice, potato and pea curry, pappadums, sliced banana and shredded coconut, sliced cucumber and coconut yoghurt, green mango pickle, and sliced avocado. It was a veritable feast!


Last night, I made Tofu and Coconut Curry. 

Readers of this blog know that I occasionally refer to my 6 year-old son as our Least Adventurous Eater.

Well, this curry was a hit with him! First, he exclaimed: ‘This is actually quite good’. That is high praise from him!

Then, later: ‘I love this tofu’. Ah, how my heart sang.

He reiterated his high praise by declaring that we should have it for dinner  ‘tomorrow night too’. No problem! We have enough left over for a side dish for tonight’s dinner.


Tofu and Coconut Curry

Adapted from: Tempeh Curry recipe in Wolf and Lamb: Animal Free Cooking, by Marijonas Vilkelis

Serves 4, with rice.


1 Tbsp olive oil (or 2 Tbsp water, for oil-free)

1 tsp mustard seeds

1tsp cumin seeds

1tsp turmeric

2 tsp ground coriander

A pinch of dried chilli flakes

1 tsp salt

1/2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger (or 1/2 tsp ground ginger)

2-3 garlic gloves, crushed

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 medium tomato, chopped

400g/14oz organic, firm tofu (preferably calcium-set) OR 400g/14oz tempeh 

3/4 cup/200ml  coconut cream 

1/3 cup of loosely-packed, freshly chopped coriander (cilantro)


1. Cut the tofu (or tempeh) into cubes. Set aside.

2. Heat the oil (or water) in a wok, then add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Stir regularly until the seeds are browned.

3.  Add onion, ginger, chilli and garlic. Stir regularly, and fry until onion softens. (If cooking without oil, you will need to add additional water at this stage to prevent the onion from sticking.)

4. Add tomato, salt, and 1/3 cup of water. Stir well.

5. Add the tofu (or tempeh) and stir until it is well coated.

6. Add the coconut cream, and stir well. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.

7. Add the chopped coriander (cilantro), and stir until incorporated.

8. Serve immediately.

Last night, I served the curry with brown rice, chickpea curry (kala channa), pappadums, green mango pickles, and mango chutney.

What is your favourite type of curry?

Each Monday I feature a delicious vegan recipe (or two) that is enjoyed by my own family. I sincerely hope your family enjoys it too.


{Recipe} Alu Kofta with Green Pea Dhal and Cashew Sauce


This month, I celebrate 17 years as a vegan. Yay! It truly is one of the best life decisions I have EVER made (along with marrying Mat, and having our precious children :)).

Today’s Recipe

I am featuring recipes from a cookbook that I acquired in 1996 (the year I embraced veganism). The cookbook is called Wolf and Lamb. It was written by the owner of one of my favourite vegan eateries, 20 000 Cows. A friend of mine visited Byron Bay for a holiday in ’96, and brought the book back as a gift for me. It has had a special place amongst my recipe books ever since.

A friend, Laura, and her son, Toby, visited our place on the weekend. Mat decided to cook Alu (potato) Kofta with Green Pea Dhal and Cashew Sauce. I wasn’t going to disagree with that tasty proposition! He has made this dish on a couple of ‘special’ occasions over the years.

Following, are 3 separate recipes.  Combined, they make an impressive, decadent meal.

Green Pea Dhal is delicious with rice as a complete meal in itself. It is a quick and simple dhal recipe, for those occasions when you don’t have time to soak split peas or lentils!


Mat made the Green Pea Dhal ahead of time, and we had some for dinner. He served it with leftover vegetable and chickpea curry, basmati rice, and pappadams. This recipe makes a large quantity, so there was plenty left over to accompany the Alu Kofta the next day.

The Cashew Sauce is truly delicious. Don’t scrimp on it for this recipe. It really transforms the Alu Kofta into something special :)

Cashew sauce is also delicious as a dip with crackers (it thickens with refrigeration), or with steamed broccoli.

cashew sauce1

Cashew Sauce

from: Wolf and Lamb by Marijonas Vilkelis

Quantity – approximately 2 cups

Ingredients –

100g/3.5 oz cashews (soaked for 4 hours)

100g/3.5 oz cashews, chopped into pieces (do not soak)

1/2 knob of garlic, crushed or chopped (ie. 4-5 cloves)

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 red chilli, finely chopped (optional, or to taste. Mat used 1/2)

1  Tbsp poppy seeds

2 tsp fennel seeds

1 can coconut cream

1 Tbsp olive oil (or a few splashes of water) for pan frying

1 tsp salt (or to taste)


1. Process the soaked cashews in a food processor, with 1 Tbsp of the soak water.  Process until a creamy sauce forms. Add more soak water, a tsp at a time, if required.

2. Heat oil (or water) in a fry pan or wok, add the garlic, ginger, and chilli. Stir. Once browned, add the poppy seeds and fennel seeds. Fry for about 30 seconds.

3. Add the chopped cashew pieces and stir well. Cook  for one minute.

4. Add the processed cashew mixture, coconut cream, and salt. Bring to the boil slowly, stirring continuously.

5. Once boiling, turn the heat down and simmer for a couple of minutes.

6. If you prefer a thinner sauce, add water or additional coconut cream.

Store leftover Cashew Sauce in the fridge.



Green Pea Dhal

from: Wolf and Lamb by Marijonas Vilkelis

Quantity- Serves 4-6 as a main dish, or 8-10 as a side dish (makes 2 litres).

Ingredients – 

1kg/2.2 pounds of fresh or frozen peas (we use frozen)

1 knob of garlic, chopped (ie. 8-10 cloves)

1 red chilli, finely chopped (optional, or to taste. Mat used 1/2)

2 tsp hing (also known as asafoetida)

1 tsp garam masala

1/4 cup coconut cream

2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp olive oil


1. Pour the frozen peas into a large mixing bowl. Cover with hot water to a level of 2cm above the peas. Set the bowl aside while the peas defrost.

2. Fry the garlic and chilli in the oil on a medium heat, in a large fry pan or wok. Once browned, add the garam masala and hing. Mix well. Cook for at least  one minute, stirring continuously. Remove from heat.

3. Once thawed, place the peas and half of the soak water into a food processor. Pulse until water and peas are beginning to combine. Do not over-process. Some of the peas should still be intact.  A ‘mushy’ pea consistency is preferable.

4. Return the fry pan to a medium heat. Add the coconut cream and bring to a gentle simmer for about 1 minute.

5. Add the pea mixture and salt, and bring to a gentle simmer while stirring regularly. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

6. Serve.



Alu Kofta

from: Wolf and Lamb by Marijonas Vilkelis

Quantity – 30 balls. Serves 4-6 (as a side dish, with green pea dhal)

Ingredients – 

4 medium-sized potatoes, peeled

2 tsp olive oil or vegan margarine

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 cup chopped shallots (spring onions), dill, or coriander (Mat used shallots)

100g/3.5 oz cornflour

Olive oil for deep frying


1. Cut the potatoes into quarters, and place in a saucepan. Cover the potatoes with just enough water to cook them. Add the salt. Bring the water to the boil, then simmer gently until the potatoes are cooked (they are ready when can be pierced with a fork).

 2. Remove the saucepan from the heat and drain off most of the water.

3. Add the oil (or vegan margarine), turmeric, and fennel seeds to the saucepan. Mash the mixture, with a fork or potato masher, until smooth. Allow the saucepan to stand (and cool) for about 15 minutes. Once the mixture has cooled, add the cornflour and shallots. Mix well.


4. Heat oil in a saucepan until hot (Mat used a small saucepan to reduce the amount of oil required, and fried one or two balls at a time).

5. Form the potato mixture into small balls (about the size of a whole walnut). Place gently into the saucepan and fry until a golden crust has formed.* Place fried kofta balls on paper towels, to soak up some of the excess oil.

6. Optional step – Brown the Alu Kofta balls in a moderate oven, prior to serving. Thanks for the suggestion, Laura :)

7. Serve with Green Pea Dhal, Basmati rice, and Cashew Sauce. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

* If the first ball disintegrates when placed into the oil, you will need to add more cornflour to the mixture. (Mat has never had this problem).

To Assemble


Serve on a large dinner plate. Place Basmati rice next to Green Pea Dhal. Set the Alu Kofta balls on top of the Green Pea Dhal, evenly spaced. Drizzle Cashew Sauce over the Alu Kofta balls. Place mint leaves on top of the rice.


The next day, Mat and I ate a few leftover Kofta balls. I baked them for 1o minutes in a moderate oven. They were scrumptious smothered in Cashew Sauce.

Each Monday, I feature a couple of delicious vegan recipes that are enjoyed by my own family. I hope your family enjoys them too!



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 428 other followers

%d bloggers like this: