One of my most favourite personal post-op recipes from the early days was a dhal one. It was given to me by Claire who I met within months of having my surgery (a bypass) and hers (a band). We not only bonded due to surgery but also a love of spicy food – something I was missing badly. She perfected her dhal recipe (with the help of a local Indian takeaway who professed it was as good as their own) – and I can vouch for that! If you want to check out that recipe see here.
Every now and again I make a batch and am always surprised how good it tastes with such humble store cupboard ingredients (assuming of course that you do have plenty of spices to hand).
I thought however it was due for an upgrade to make it more main meal territory and also to add to our BARIATRIC COOKERY PANTRY+ strand of ideas for food in lock-down or quarantine/isolation. So I have tinkered around and made a great contender for ‘best bariatric dhal’ by using some ham (or gammon) and butternut squash in my mix. I used a gammon steak that I had but you could use bacon or even leftover cooked ham instead – or indeed leave out altogether if you want to keep it vegetarian.
Of course the spices are somewhat key to this dish but if you simply don’t have them, or not such a purist, then just use a heaped tablespoon of curry powder (strength according to taste) instead – no one is looking or checking!
This is a dish that tastes almost better the day after making and also freezes beautifully so I have made the quantities to feed 8 normal appetites but you can halve or quarter the quantities if you like.
I have served mine just as is; also with a little shredded chicken; and sometimes with a little wholemeal pitta bread for scooping – your choice. Whichever way I just know you will love it – especially if you’re on soft foods and aching for something with great flavour after so many bland offerings. It’s dhal-ing!
HAM AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH DHAL
low-fat cooking spray or mist
1 large onion, finely chopped
100 g/4 oz gammon steak or bacon, trimmed free of fat and chopped
2 cloves garlic or 2 tbsp lazy garlic
2 tbsp lazy chopped ginger
1 tsp lazy chopped chilli (optional)
2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp turmeric
½ tsp ground cinnamon
400 g/14 oz can chopped tomatoes
400 g/14 oz can light coconut milk
400 g/2 cups dried red lentils
600 g/1¼ lb prepared butternut squash, chopped into small bite-sized pieces
750 ml/3 cups water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Generously spritz a large lidded pan with low-fat cooking spray (use 2 pans to make if you are unsure if your pan is large enough). Heat, add the onion and gammon or bacon and cook for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.
- Add the garlic, ginger, chilli if using, garam masala, turmeric and cinnamon, mixing well. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes, coconut milk and lentils, mixing well. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, add the squash and half of the water and heat until bubbling.
- Lower the heat, cover and cook for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding the remaining water when the mixture starts to cook a little too thick. Do stir frequently during the latter stages of cooking and especially to the bottom of the pan so that the dhal doesn’t stick and scorch.
- The dhal is cooked when the lentils are softened and the squash is very tender. Season to taste, only adding salt sparingly if using the ham or gammon since it may well have sufficient salt within it to flavour.
- Serve hot or warm in bowls.
WLS PORTION: ½
V suitable for Vegetarians if no ham or gammon is used
* suitable for Freezing
CALORIES PER PORTION: 290
PROTEIN: 17.7 g
CARBOHYDRATE: 44.9 g (8.1 g sugars)
FAT: 5.3 g
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