The Lowdown: The British Dal Festival 2019

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

The British Dal Festival 2019

Related tags: Chefs, Bristol, Indian cuisine

Pulses will be sent racing next February as restaurants in Bristol and beyond explore the role of split lentils, peas and beans on menus.

Is Jay-Z headlining?
It’s not that sort of a festival. Its organisers are looking to create a ‘Dal Trail’ across the UK following the success of the inaugural event, which took place in Bristol back in March. If it were an actual festival with live music and Portaloos Mumford & Sons would be a better fit.

Much like Mumford & Sons, it sounds a bit samey…
Dal is a generic term used in the Indian subcontinent to denote split pulses and the dishes made with them, so there’s more variety than you might think. There are a fair few Indian restaurants involved, but participants don’t have to create dishes that are subcontinental in flavour. Last time a pie restaurant created a special mushy peas dish, which we think is pushing it.

Who participated last year?
38 Bristol establishment put a special pulse dish on their menu, including Indian restaurant Nutmeg, brunch spot Bakers & Co and shipping container-based fine dining restaurant BOX-E. Elliott Lidstone, the chef patron of the latter, created a hake and lentil dish that showcased UK-grown lentils.

What else is going on?
All sorts. There are cooking demos, dal making competitions for the public and link ups with schools. Last year there were events that explored the importance of pulses to different cultures organised by community organisations 91 Ways and Refugee Women of Bristol.

When is it?
Next year’s festival has been moved to coincide with the first ever United Nations World Pulse Day (10 February), which aims to recognise the contribution pulses make to health, nutrition, food security, biodiversity and combating climate change.

What’s in for restaurants?
Organiser the British Edible Pulse Association says participating businesses will benefit from PR and social media support. There’s a strong ethical angle too. Chefs should be doing more to get people to eat pulses: they’re cheap, versatile and good for you yet generally speaking are a rare find on restaurant menus. Being high in protein, they’re also touted as a sustainable way of reducing worldwide meat consumption. The deadline for signing up​ is 7 December.  

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