Mother's Day recipe: Selina Periampillai
Dhal Pita- A Mauritian Vegetarian Sensation
For Mother's Day, we’re welcoming back one of our favourite chefs, Selina Periampillai, to the blog with an incredible recipe from her mother for Dhal Pita.
My Mothers Recipe by Selina Periampillai
This week welcomes another year of Mauritian Independence Day, with celebrations on the island, family rendezvous and feasting over food. Well, I'm not in Mauritius, but somewhat close to that I headed over to my parents house to leisurely cook with my mum and spend some time with the family over a home cooked Mauritian dinner.
The dish we cooked is the ultimate one pot dish, perfect for vegetarians, filling and wholesome it's called Dhal Pita. Many Mauritians out there will immediately know what I'm talking about, something you will find cooked up in the homes of those brought up from a Mauritian heritage. In a nutshell, it comprises of a dough mixture (similar to dumplings) which is rolled, cut into squares and dropped into a pot of red lentils fricasseed with onions, garlic, ginger, and spice.
The small square pieces of dough actually soak up the creamy goodness of the lentils, so it has that smooth, silky, comforting heave when you spoon out your first plateful. Paired with a tomato satini, or rougaille sauce it is simply eaten with this and possibly some chillies or pickles on the side. You can easily devour a plate full or two.
Generation to generation
While making this dish with my mum in the kitchen, she reminisced over when she used to see her mum cooking it in the kitchen when she was younger, this is the story of this dish, transcending over generations and something I will probably cook for my kids! This is her recipe so I'm going to dedicate this recipe and post to her as she has been a massive support in my journey of Taste Mauritius, plus it’s Mothers Day soon!
200g red lentils (washed and cleaned)
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 inch ginger, finally chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped (optional)
1 tsp thyme leaves
150g chopped tomatoes (canned)
1tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
For the Dough:
300g plain flour
1tbsp vegetable oil
Firstly, place your lentils in a deep saucepan, wash the lentils with some water and pour this water out.
Next, add approximately 850ml of boiling water to the lentils, place on a medium heat on the hob.
Add in 2tsp salt and bring to rolling boil, skim all the white frothy scum that collects at the top and discard.
While this is cooking, make the fricasse (topping) for the dhall, in a seperate saucepan. Add in the olive oil, then sauté the onions for 2 minutes till softened, next add in the, garlic, ginger, chilli and thyme. Let this cook for a few minutes, keep stirring it and make sure not to burn.
Add in the chopped tomatoes and finally the fresh coriander. Let this cook for 10 minutes, don't add any seasoning at this stage.
Pour the fricasse topping into your red dhall that's still cooking, give this a stir. At this stage if the dhall is looking dry add approx 300ml of water to the dhall and continue simmering on the hob for about another 30 minutes till softened and cooked.
While the dhall is cooking, make your dough. Mix the oil, flour and boiling water slowly to bring together into a ball with a dough consistency (use a spoon to mix, don't put your hands in there while it's still hot!)
When it's ok to handle, if the dough is sticky add some more flour, and just use your hands to gently knead till smooth and soft, do not over knead. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into 5 large plum sized balls. Then flour your workspace, roll out one first, to the thinness of a chappati. Take a knife and score lines horizontally across the dough, approx 1.5 inches apart, then working vertically score the dough, so your left with lots of square pieces of dough.
Once the dough is cut, drop these immediately into the dhall, cover the pan and let this cook for an extra 10 minutes until these little dough dumplings are cooked.
Take off the heat and let it sit if you can before serving if you want a creamier texture to the dhal pita.
Enjoy with chutneys and pickles plus family!
Photos: Selina Periampillai