Aubergine and spinach dhal, roasted butternut, crispy garlic

Aubergine & spinach dhal, roasted butternut, crispy garlic.JPG

Perhaps it’s the influence of the recent influx of vegetarian clients but I seem to be going through a bit of a veggie phase.
Whilst I know fully plant-based doesn’t suit me, it’s nice to discover predominantly vegetarian dishes that are easy to adapt to most tastes. If you really can’t do without the extra protein, for example, then just put a grilled chicken breast on top of this dhal, or keep it as it is and embrace the vegan dinner.
Aside from being ridiculously tasty, this aubergine and spinach dhal also keeps well so make a big batch and you’ll have lunch for days.

Ingredients to feed 4 (or 2 plus 2 lunches)
250g red lentils, rinsed
1 medium aubergine, cubed, (350g approximately)
100g spinach, washed and roughly chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds scraped out, cut in half lengthways then sliced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of coconut milk
2 + 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
thumb sized piece of ginger (50g), peeled then grated
2 green chillies, pierced
1.5 tablespoons of medium curry powder
2 teaspoons of turmeric
a bunch of coriander, stalks finely chopped, leaves set aside
sea salt and black pepper to season
rapeseed oil to cook

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, put the butternut squash slices on a roasting tray, drizzle with some oil, season with sea salt and black pepper and roast for 30-40 minutes until fully cooked.
Whilst the butternut is roasting, make the dhal.
Place a large saucepan on a medium heat with 2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil.
Add 2 cloves of sliced garlic, the grated ginger, the 2 pierced chillies, and cook for 3-4 minutes until fragrant. Add the curry powder, turmeric, coriander stalks and aubergine and stir well. Cook for a couple of minutes then stir in the lentils, chopped tomato, coconut milk and 200ml (half a tin) of water. Season with a couple of pinches of sea salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
Bring to boil, turn the heat down to low and allow it to simmer gently for 20 minutes. Stir every now and then to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom.
The consistency should be similar to porridge and the lentils should be soft.
Stir in the spinach and season again with sea salt and black pepper.
To make the crispy garlic, heat a tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan on a medium-high heat. Add the 4 cloves of garlic and cook until golden in colour (a couple of minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and put on a sheet of kitchen towel to remove the excess oil.
To serve, put a couple of ladles of the dhal in a bowl, top with roasted butternut squash slices, crispy garlic and a handful of fresh coriander leaves.