Mung dal with turnip & dill

Mung with turnip

Hello friends!

Today I decided to prepare this unusual combination of lentil and vegetable which most people may not be familiar with.  I remember my mother-in-law used to make it and over the years I have tried to mimic her but I don’t think it is ever as good!  As this was something only she prepared and my mother didn’t, we really looked forward to it.  Sometimes she would make it and send it over to us.  She was very aware of the Ayurvedic properties of food and mung bean is cooling so of course this was a summer dish.

There are many different sorts of lentils and taste surprisingly different with the skin on – so the orange lentil without the skin is nothing like the same lentil with the skin on.  Mung bean with the skin in this recipe tastes completely different and bears no similarity with the skinless yellow mung bean – see my recipe for yellow mung dal.

Lentils are loaded with vitamins, minerals and are a good source of protein and all this with no carbohydrates.  Lentils are usually cooked with very simple spices; my usual spices are turmeric, garlic, ginger and chillies (optional).  What makes dal different to say lentil soup, is the all important tarka (garnish).  Tarka is the crowning glory of all lentil dishes and is a must!

The mixture of spices used for tarka are traditionally set in stone in every household.  So if you wish to use fried onions on a particular dal which is traditionally garnished with garlic and cumin, then you’re in trouble.  But we are here to break the rules and experiment and not always do as our mothers did….. and if you make a judgement based on your culinary intuition, you will rarely go wrong.  And if you do, well that’s a lesson learnt!  So do give this a go and if you absolutely detest turnips, no worries, bung in a carrot or even marrow or pumpkin (if using marrow or pumpkin add towards the end as mushy marrow or pumpkin are not very palatable).   As a matter of fact there is a dal we make using orange lentil and add largish pieces of marrow in the last 20 minutes – I will post this recipe too in due course.

I hope you enjoy this recipe – dal and beans provide us with an excellent range of nutrients and are very versatile once you know how to use them.  Please let me know how you get on in the comments box.


1 cup split mung beans with skin
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 inch piece ginger, grated
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon chilli powder (or less)
2 turnips, cut into small pieces
½ cup fresh dill (frozen is fine too)

2-3 dried whole red chillies
1 teaspoon whole cumin
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons oil


  1. Soak mung beans for about an hour
  2. Rinse the dal and add garlic, ginger, turmeric, chilli powder and salt
  3. Add 4 cups of water and cook for 40-45 minutes until cooked and dal is soft
  4. Add turnips and dill and cook for a further 20-25 minutes until turnips are tender


  1. Heat the oil and add whole chillies
  2. Give the chillies 30 seconds and add cumin seeds
  3. Another 30 seconds and add onions and garlic; fry till golden brown
  4. Pour piping hot garnish on the mung beans and serve with rice

Courgettes with red pepper

Courgettes & red pepper

I know a number of people who aren’t very fond of courgettes (zucchini) or big brother marrow!  I think this may be because courgettes tend to go soft and limp very quickly.  I personally quite like them cooked and a little squidgy is fine, but if you like them crunchy, cutting them into strips is the solution.  

Here I have combined them with red peppers, tomatoes and onions and it worked very well.  Keep an eye on the vegetables to ensure they don’t go too mushy.


2 medium size courgettes, cut into 2 inch strips – no need to peel
Red pepper, cut into 2 inch strips (I used the long red pepper called Romano, but bell pepper is fine)
1 large onion, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon whole cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
1 large tomato, cut into 8 pieces
Salt to taste


  1. Heat oil and add the cumin; after 30 seconds add the onion and garlic (don’t let the cumin burn)
  2. Fry till onion is translucent
  3. Add turmeric, cumin powder, chilli flakes, salt and tomato – cover and cook until tomato is soft but holds its shape, about 10 minutes.
  4. Now add the courgettes and red pepper, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes stirring to ensure it doesn’t stick and the vegetables are properly coated with the spices
  5. Serve with rice or quinoa




Yogurt with aubergine

Yogurt & aubergine

Yogurt with aubergine is just one of the variations to accompany any rice dish.  In Iran and in the Middle East people are very fond of yogurt and add just about anything to it before serving with rice.  You can add cucumber of course, spinach, onions, cooked diced potatoes and even cooked, grated beetroot!  


1 medium tub of Sojade natural yogurt (Sojade is available at As Nature Intended and Wholefoods)
1-2 cloves garlic, grated fine
Small aubergine, peeled and cut into 1-2 inch strips
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried mint
Chilli flakes or black pepper (I use mild Aleppo Pepper sold as Pul Biber in Middle Eastern shops)


  1. Mix garlic with yogurt and set aside
  2. Saute the aubergine in 2 tablespoons oil – cover and stir intermittently – this will allow the aubergines to cook and brown
  3. Place the aubergines on top of the yogurt
  4. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small frying pan, take off the heat and add mint and immediately spoon the mint over yogurt – no need to pour all the oil on it
  5. Sprinkle chilli flakes or black pepper

Turnips, celery & fresh apricots stew


2 regular portions, serve with rice or quinoa


1 large onion, sliced
3 tablespoons oil
3 medium turnips, cut into quarters
2-3 sticks celery, cut into 2 inch pieces
8 fresh apricots, deseeded and halved (you could use dried apricots but soak them in a little hot water for 20 minutes and add the water to the stew)
1 teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup water
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon sugar (optional – only if apricots are tart)


  1. Fry onion in oil until golden
  2. Take off the heat and add turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, turnips, celery and salt
  3. Fry gently for a 2-3 minutes, add apricots and small cup of water
  4. Cook on low until turnips are cooked
  5. Check for taste – if the apricots are too tart you may wish to add some sugar at this point.
  6. Simmer for a few minutes and serve with rice or quinoa


Rice with green lentils

Rice with green lentils(2)

Rice  with green lentils (you could also use brown lentils) is one of my favourites – it’s light and doesn’t sit heavy on the stomach unlike richer biryanis, and very quick and simple specially if you use tinned lentils.  You could cook the lentils yourself of course but this works fine and is much quicker specially if you find yourself caught short for time.  I have added some soya mince as this enhances the taste and texture but there again you could do without – it’s your choice so feel free to adapt and use the recipe as a basic guideline.

4 servings


250 grams Basmati rice  – soak for an hour
1 tin green lentils
4 tablespoons oil
2 medium onions, sliced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon dried mint
1 cup TVP mince (soaked for 15 minutes) or 1½ cup frozen vegan mince eg Linda McCartney’s
2 tablespoons tomato puree

Rice with green lentils(3)


  1. Fry the onion in 3 tablespoons of oil until golden brown
  2. Remove about a third of the onion and set aside
  3. Add 1 teaspoon turmeric and mint to the onion in the frying pan and give it a quick stir – mint burns easily so take off the heat
  4. Add the lentils, tomato puree and mince with ½ cup water and half a teaspoon salt
  5. Cook uncovered over low heat for about 15 minutes until dry – set aside

The rice

  1. Rinse rice and bring to boil with 1 teaspoon salt (always boil rice in a lot of water as this keeps the grains separate & fluffy)
  2. Once it comes to the boil, the rice should be ready in about 3-4 minutes (depending on soaking time). Don’t allow the rice to get soft – it should be just cooked and slightly al dente
  3. Strain the rice in a colander
  4. Put 1 tablespoon oil and 4 tablespoons of water in the pan
  5. Put one-third of the rice into the pan and then lay the lentils and mince on top of it
  6. Spoon rest of the rice on top of the lentil and mince mixture
  7. Wrap lid with a tea cloth and place tightly on the pan
  8. Steam on low heat for 15-20 minutes – carefully lift the lid and if steam is pouring out of the pan, the rice is ready
  9. Sprinkle the fried onions you set aside earlier before serving
  10. Serve with salad and Yogurt with aubergine

Avocado, red onion & tomato salad
Avocado, onion and tomato salad

Yogurt & aubergine_copy

Yogurt with aubergine