On my Wild Garlic Curry blog post, fellow blogger Mark from his Veg Plot left a comment saying that the dish reminded him of one of his favourite dishes from Nepal called Channa Saag. It was his comment that prompted me to make this Wild Garlic Channa Dal. I really do enjoy reading comments from fellow bloggers, as sometimes (like now) they set culinary sparks in my head and for that I am thankful. Wild Garlic Focaccia. I was a little nervous about dipping an Italian bread into a spicy Indian dish, but both actually complimented each other well. The crunch of the sea salt and the softness of the dough absorbed the lighly spiced and garlicky dal wonderfully.
To appreciate the full intense flavour of this Wild Garlic Channa Dal, it is essential that your tarka the dal. Tarka is a cooking technique: where sliced onions, garlic or spices (sometimes all) are added to very hot ghee, butter or oil. The onions, garlic and spices will sizzle and turn golden - imagine garlic butter in liquid form. I tend to do my tarka with butter and usually towards the end of the cooking, but if you wish you can do it at the start and with oil, but do it!.
225g Channa dal also known as yellow split peas, soaked in cold water for 1 - 2 hours, then drained
2 - 2½ pints of water
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ - 1 teaspoon chilli powder
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
160g - 200g wild garlic, washed thoroughly and blanched
For the Tarka
100g full fat butter or ghee; or oil
2 - 3 cloves garlic, sliced
In a large pot, add the yellow split peas with the water and spices and bring to a boil. Then turn the heat down and allow to simmer for 1 to 2 hours until the peas are tender. Halfway through the cooking process, remove two ladleful of liquid and pour into a food processor, to this add the blanched wild garlic and blend. Set aside
When the peas are cooked and the liquid has reduced somewhat, stir in the blitzed wild garlic.
Now begin the tarka process.
Heat the butter, ghee or oil in a wide pan, add the garlic to this and gently allow it to simmer. It is important not to stir too much. You are trying to get the butter and garlic to turn golden - imagine garlic butter. When this happens, carefully stir into the Wild Garlicky Channa Dal. Simmer for about 5 minutes, before serving.