Deliciously hearty, this spicy dal, aubergine, and kale casserole is simple to make, and not only fills your tummy with its warming vegan goodness but also fills your kitchen with its comforting aroma!
Rinse the channa dal in cold water, then place into a pan with the turmeric and enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, then cover the pan (leaving a small gap to prevent overspill), reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10-15 mins, until the dal has softened but not cooked through. Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.
While the dal is cooking, steam the sliced aubergines for 5 mins, until soft. Set aside.
Pre-heat your oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4).
Over a medium heat, heat the oil in a wok or kadai, and splutter the cumin seeds and curry leaves for 20 seconds or so, until the seeds begin to pop.
Immediately add the onion and salt, and fry for 5 mins, until it starts to become translucent.
Stir in the garlic ginger paste, and continue to fry for another 2-3 mins.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, and stir in the gochujang, harissa, smoked paprika, and the fresh tomatoes. Fry - stirring occasionally - for another 5-7 mins, until the oil starts to separate, and the mix comes cleanly away from the pan.
Add the canned tomatoes, cavolo nero, and cooked dal, and mix well.
Transfer to an oven-proof baking dish or casserole, and arrange the steamed aubergine slices over the top, pressing them down slightly, so that they're partially submerged.
Drizzle over a little sesame oil, then bake in the centre of the oven for around 30 mins, until sizzling.
Serve immediately, with a dash of lime juice, and sprinkled with a few torn coriander leaves.
Any leftovers may be kept for 3-4 days in an airtight container in the fridge, or in the freezer (minus the aubergines) for up to three months.
Making this in a slow cooker
Steps 1-8: Follow the recipe as written, omitting pre-heating your oven. If you use the CrockPot that I have, you can sauté in it too. If not, use a wok (etc.).
If using a different slow cooker to mine, transfer to the slow cooker bowl, then arrange the aubergines as above. You can leave out the sesame oil if you wish, as the aubergines won't dry out in the slow cooker.
Cook for 6 hours on high, or 12 on low.
Serve written above. Ditto, refrigeration and freezing.
If you can't get Asian or baby aubergines, use slices of regular ones - you want the slices to be about 1,5cm (c.⅔") thick.
If you can't get fresh curry leaves, frozen will work just as well. If you can get neither, then dried will work but you may need to throw in an extra two or three.
Make garlic ginger paste by pounding together 4 large cloves of garlic with a thumb of fresh ginger root. You could also make it in a food processor or high-speed blender (e.g. VAC2), in which case, make more than you need, and store in an airtight jar in the fridge.
Regular chilli flakes can be substituted but if you can get Korean gochujang, you'll find it has a greater depth of flavour. Similarly, Korean chilli flakes (gochugaru) could also be used.
AKA black kale, Tuscan kale, black cabbage, dinosaur kale, lacinato kale. You can use other kale, or even dark green cabbage, if you prefer - I use cavolo nero because it's my favourite!