top of page

The 'Dhal'ai Lama of dhals |

Get your slappy hands and hungry mouth around this incredible Singaporean coconut dhal and roti canai. Recipe by Ping Combes.

Prep time: Overnight for dough resting, otherwise 20 minutes

Cooking time: 30 mins

Makes: 2 Portions

Ingredients Dhal:

200g red lentils 1/2 tsp ground turmeric 1/2 tsp chilli powder 1 tin coconut milk 30g butter 2 tbsp vegetable oil 125g cherry tomatoes 1 small onion 2 or 3 dried curry leaves 1 tsp cumin seeds

For the roti canai 50ml condensed milk 1 egg 1 tbsp oil 300g strong white bread flour

Extra oil for dough resting (a few hundred ml)

1. Canai have some delicious bread?

Get this recipe started by prepping the roti. Mix your wet ingredients: 50ml coconut milk, 1tbsp oil, 85ml water and ¾ tsp salt. Make sure they're mixed together evenly.

Weigh out 300g of your macho macho, strong flour, in a large bowl. Create a well in the centre (make sure it doesn't go wrong, otherwise you'll have to dam it) and pour in your wet ingredients. Mix it in well, save your hands getting doughy and use a chopstick to mix.

The dough will be sticky and unappetizing at first, but knead it without extra flour for five minutes and it will be become silky smooth like an adipose bebé. Now you have a beautiful, smooth dough, stop poking it (or devil fingering it), no matter how satisfying, and leave it to rest, covered for 20 minutes.

Return to your dough. Now is your time to do a bakers style cow bite kneading technique. Knead for another 5 minutes. Divide the dough into six even balls.

Time to visit the spa dahling. Coat your hands in vegetable oil (it probably has the same effect as coconut oil, right?) and rub your dough balls. Don't get too invested in your new life as Svetlana the masseuse; be gentle with your balls. Once you've rubbed the oil in, pop your balls in a container so they fit snuggly together. Once huddled like a pack of pale penguins, fill your container with enough oil so that they are all covered. Cover your container. Leave them in their oil soak overnight in the fridge.

Before cooking your roti, make sure to welcome the dough out of its chilly state by allowing it to come back to room temperature.

2. Working round the dhal

This part couldn't be more simpdhal. Add 200g red lentils, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 300ml water and your tin of coconut milk. Bring this to boil, not by shouting angry insults, but by cranking up the heat. Once boiling bring down to a simmer, not by calming it down with pleasantries, but by turning the heat down. Simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Caramelize those tomatoes henny

While your dhal is dhaling its thing, prepare your dhal topping. Cut your 125g tomatoes in half and chop up your small onion.

Heat 30g butter and 2tbsp butter in a pan, once melted place your tomatoes cut-side down into the pan. Careful not to get hot melted oil on yourself, an upside down tomato is not the end of the world! Leave to caramelize for a couple of minutes.

Add in your chopped onions, 3 curry leaves and 1tsp cumin seeds. Toss around and leave to cook for 5 minutes until everything is caramely.

4. Slippy slappy time

Retrieve your room temperature dough balls. Rescue one from its oily drowning fate, place on the work surface. Dip your hands into the tupperware oil. Press down on your dough to flatten it. Then use your pincer fingers, you saucy little crab, to stretch the dough out as thin as it will go - think Lady Cassandra. Dipping your hands occasionally in the oil will help the stretching process. When fully stretched, fold the edges into the middle to meet as to trap some air (not wind). It should form a 15x17cm rectangle. Heat a frying pan on a high heat and keep doing this until you've made all your rotis!

Slap a roti in the pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side. It should be crispy and charred.

Whack your freshly charred roti back on the work surface. Position your palms on either side of the roti and start to applaud, celebrating the beautiful bread you've created by crushing it with your appreciation. At the end it will be flakier than your friend who's always got a cold.

Bowl up some dhal and plate up some bread and dink and sink!

Food for Thought

Lizzy says: "I was a little bit mad that this recipe didn't forewarn that this recipe needs to rest overnight, but having read the recipe thoroughly we were ready to go. The roti were a tremendous amount of work, lots of leaving them to rest in oil and slapping them about, maybe it was worth it in the end, but this wouldn't become a regular recipe. The dhal was nice, but very sweet and coconutty so that it tasted a bit like it was a bit like a rice pudding. Overall, I like it but not enough to love it. 8/10 "

Kate says: "A difficult search for condensed milk here in Germany as well as vegan lent meant this dish was significantly delayed for a gasp. But oh boy, was it worth the wait. The crispy, fluffy and sweet bread, although a lot of effort, will keep your hands young with all the oil involved in making it and keep your tummy happy. My only regret is I didn't make more. The dhal was so-so on its own(make sure you salt heavily), but once you added those deliciously caramelised tomatoes on top it was taking to a whole new realm of dhals I didn't know existed. A sure classic for me, even though it takes a bit of foresight in the preparation. 10/10 "

.../10 Gasps


bottom of page