Dhal for my Darl

Ah dhal. The food of uni students around the world. Cheap, tasty and sustaining. Somehow what a uni student wants from a meal is the same thing a mum looks for. Cheap, tasty and sustaining. Though now I think I would tac nutritious in there too. Didn’t care too much about that when I was 20.

With both Possum and myself plodding along with some kind of snot thing going on, dhal for dinner was just what the doctor/naturopath/ayurvedic specialist ordered. I was so glad I made dinner early today, as I sat with Possum while she fell asleep, and I was wiping snot onto my own sleeve. So glamorous this whole parenting thing.

Dhal was a Possum success, but not for the lentils. I learnt my lesson last time I made this for her, so added a good amount of veg cut nice and thick, easy for little Possum hands. The bonus of this is that she ends up eating lentils without actually liking or wanting to eat lentils! Mwahahahaha.

Snot Monster attacks camera

Snot Monster attacks camera

I used some onions from the garden in dinner. Now, before you go thinking that I’m some kind of gifted gardener wonder mum with butterflies resting on my shoulder while i wear my baby to garden wearing organic hemp. You couldn’t be further from the truth. I have an extensive collection of empty plant pots, half used potting mix bags, rusty garden tools and garden books in pristine condition. Full of initial enthusiasm without any skill or lasting passion (like any teen romance really). These wonderful onions that I speak of came with the house, so to speak. The place we’re living in has a lovely garden complete with raised veggie beds and fruit trees. Which I am certain I will manage to kill entirely before we move out. Sorry Pete.

Homegrown onions

Homegrown onions

No recipe link for you tonight. This was made off the top of my head… So here it goes…

Dhal for my DarlĀ 

Serves 4

1 cup red lentils, rinsed

4 cups water

1 Tbsp ghee, butter or coconut oil

1 large onion or two medium onions

1 thumb sized piece of ginger, gratedĀ (I used my microplane)

1/2 – 1 tsp garam masala

1/2 – 1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 – 1 tsp ground cumin

3 large carrots or 5 small carrots, cut into 1cm thick diagonal discs (does that make sense??)

1 large zucchini, cut into 1cm thick half crescents

2 tomatoes, thickly diced

  1. Place lentils and water into a medium – large saucepan and bring to the boil. Skim any muck from the surface. Lower to a simmer and add the carrots. Continue to simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom.
  2. Meanwhile, melt ghee into a small frypan. Add your onion, spices and ginger and cook over a steady low heat to slowly soften.
  3. After the lentils have been cooking for 45 minutes, add the zucchini and tomato. Continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.
  4. Prior to serving, stir through the onion and spice mixture. Reserve seasoning until dishes are served (only relevant if bub will be eating it too).
  5. Serve with rice, or naan, or in my case… buttered bagels. Surprisingly delicious! Would recommend. But make sure you smother the bagel in butter. And don’t you dare use margarine!

And now for the rating…

Vegetable and Red Lentil Dhal

Affordability : EXCELLENT. Crazy cheap.

Time Factor : EXCELLENT. One you can set up and leave to do it’s thing. Minimal prep needed. And once you know how to make this, then there’s no referring back to a recipe.

Complexity : LOW. I could make this when I was a silly 20 year old. And I can still make it as a muddled mummy.

Deliciousness : MODERATE. Sustaining goodness. The bagel helped bring this up to highly moderately delicious.

Mess : LOW. One saucepan and one little frypan. Easy.

Tummy Filling Factor : MODERATE. Glad I had the bagel. But if you had another curry alongside this it would help fill out the meal.

Possum Friendly? YES. I had to get her seconds. She gobbled up about 10 pieces of zucchini and 10 pieces of carrot. I was impressed. I wasn’t impressed with how much of the lentil curry she managed to paint through her hair though…

Would I make it again? Yes. A great one to have for when there’s nothing in the fridge or in the wallet.

Red Lentil and Vegetable Dhal

Red Lentil and Vegetable Dhal


Leon’s Not Too Spicy Chicken CousCous and a Little Lunch Time Curry

***This is one of my most popular blog posts, so to make life easier… here is the link to the chicken cous cous recipe… CLICK HERE****

Today our wonderful little Possum turned 10 months. Double digits already! They always said it would go faster than a blink of an eye, I never really could comprehend it, but wow. It has gone so fast. Today we celebrate by staying at home, quarantined with snotty noses, hanging out in our flannelette pyjamas. I felt like a mum today, “Come here so I can wipe your nose”. Yup, definitely a mum.

So we needed food to help make us better. Spices, vegetables and garlic were in order!

Lunch was this lovely Broccoli Cauliflower and Pea curry, which was tried and tested before. A possum favourite.

Mum and Possum Lunch

Mum and Possum Lunch

It makes me a happy mumma when Possum gobbled up all the broccoli first.

Broccoli Snot Monster

Broccoli Snot Monster

Dinner tonight was a favourite of mine, Leon’s Not Too Spicy Chicken CousCous. I have spoken before about how wonderful the Leon chain is and their super fantastico cookbooks. This recipe is from the first book (the best of the bunch). It is one I make often when friends are coming over as it’s tasty and simple. This was a good way to use up some of the chicken stock in the fridge that I made last week. I managed to find another blogger today who gushed over Leon with the same amount of love I feel for them… here is her post. It includes the recipe for the couscous. I do a few little tweaks. Instead of raisins or sultanas, I used chopped dates. I also like to add some vegetables in with the couscous. Tonight it was cauliflower and zucchini (chopped kale is another good one). I have made it with wholemeal couscous too which was still very tasty. I made a little blunder tonight and added over a litre of stock instead of just 500ml. It was a bit wet compared to normal but still a great combination of flavours.

Chicken couscous

Chicken couscous

The recipe calls for garlicky tomatoes to be served with it (as well as mint, coriander and pine nuts). All of which I feel are essential to turn a good dinner into an awesome one. To make my life easier, I roasted some sweet potato “wedges” in the same tray for Possum’s dinner (they’re her favourite thing at the moment).

Garlicky Tomatoes

Garlicky Tomatoes

Leon’s Not Too Spicy Chicken Cous Cous

Affordability : MODERATE. Uses a whole box of cous cous plus meat and herbs. We have mint in the garden but I had to buy coriander. I managed to score a tray of mini roma tomatoes on quick sale which made this a bit cheaper. I always have a jar of pine nuts so didn’t have to buy some just for tonight. The recipe makes plenty, you will have leftovers for certain.

Time Factor : MODERATE. You will need to peel and chop 10 cloves of garlic all up. A little bit time consuming. A little hint is to squash the cloves with the side of your knife before attempting to peel. This will loosen the skin and make it much easier and faster. The two trays were in the oven for 35 minutes.

Complexity : LOW. A bit of chopping and marinating but fairly straight forward.

Deliciousness : EXCELLENT. Feel good, garlic laden, comfort food. Always a winner. Plus Possum loved it, though she did get a chilli flake on one of her pieces of chicken and wasn’t too happy about it.

Mess : LOW. Two pan wonder. Plus a bowl to marinate the chicken.

Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. The ratios were a bit off tonight with the stock mix up plus not buying enough chicken. But Lego Man and I were still both pretty full afterwards. We did enjoy a bowl of ice cream with my homemade strawberry jam/syrup on top though.

Possum Friendly? YES. Salt kept low by using homemade stock plus no extra salt added. Spices didn’t seem to be as strong as usual (didn’t measure as I had a baby on my hip at the time) but flavour was lovely. Possum gobbled up her serve, but wasn’t super keen on the cauliflower.

Would I make it again? Yes, most certainly.

Leon's Not Too Spicy Chicken Couscous

Leon’s Not Too Spicy Chicken Couscous

Misty Mountain Goodness

Today was a perfect Blue Mountains Sunday. Terrible for the tourists who’ve come for the view. Perfect for a lunch of hot pies from the bakery and spending the day at home with my little family.

The view from my driveway today.

The view from my driveway today.

Tonight’s dinner suited the weather perfectly. The baked risotto was delicious, with super tasty crunchy bits around the edge and a zing of lemon zest and fresh oregano on the top. The lamb loin chops grilled to yumminess. The asparagus crunchy with a slight tang of balsamic. I don’t think I came up for air until my plate was empty. Then I stood over the baking dish of rice eating more. That’s when I realised one important question was missing from my nightly rating. “Would I make this again?” Tonight, absolutely!

Baked Risotto

Baked Risotto



Oven Baked Risotto with Lamb Chops and Vegetables:

Affordability : EXCELLENT. Chops are a tasty and affordable cut of meat. Buy seasonal veg which will be tasty and cheap. And rice, a little goes a long way. I love rice!
Time Factor : MODERATE. ~30 minutes prep plus 45 minutes oven time. Thankyou Lego Man for continuing cooking while I put Possum to bed. The risotto was baked in a square cake/slice tin. Worked perfectly.
Complexity : LOW – MODERATE. I managed to time everything well tonight, but it would be the kind of meal where the risotto could sit in the oven a little longer, the chops could grill a little longer. You just don’t want over cooked veg.
Deliciousness : EXCELLENT. Simple tasty goodness. Lego Man brought chops back into my culinary life after we got engaged. Sure the first time he cooked them for me they may have caught on fire. But you can’t kill a chop with a bit of flame. It actually makes them taste better!
Mess : MODERATE. A few pots but dishes didn’t take too long after dinner.
Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. I piled Lego Man’s plate a little too much for him, but was not quite enough for my bottomless pit of a stomach.
Possum Friendly? MODERATE. She loves chops, and has already had risotto before. Will see if she likes asparagus tomorrow.

Would I make it again? Absolutely. This recipe is a keeper! I couldn’t find any farro today when I was shopping so I just used arborio rice. Next time I will try farro though (if I can find it!).

Baked Risotto with Chops and Veg

Baked Risotto with Chops and Veg