Haggis, Neeps and Dhal
by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall from River Cottage ‘Good Comfort’ (Bloomsbury)
Photography: Simon Wheeler
I’m partial to a good haggis – a true comfort food – and it is often surprisingly spicy. That’s what gave me the idea of serving alongside a lentil, as well as the more traditional peppery, buttery swede (or ‘neeps’ as it’s named in Scotland). It’s not remotely traditional but it works, and I’d really like haggis-lovers to try it! The protein-rich lentils take the place of mashed tatties, and I add a serving of greens – to strike just the right balance of comfort and goodies.
1 haggis (about 500g)
About 500g swede, peeled and cut into smallish cubes
25g butter, plus a knob for the greens
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp chopped sage
About 400g kale, or 2 heads of spring greens or 1 small green cabbage, shredded
Sea salt and black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf (optional)
2 garlic cloves, grated or crushed
3–4cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
3–4 cm piece of fresh turmeric, grated, or 1 tsp ground turmeric (optional)
200g red lentils, well rinsed
Sea salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas 4. Remove the packaging, but not the natural casing, from the haggis then wrap it in foil and place in an ovenproof dish. Pour in enough boiling water to give a 2cm depth and cook in the oven for about 1¼ hours until the haggis is piping hot. (Or, put it into a large pan, cover with boiling water and simmer gently for 30 minutes or until heated through.) Or cook as the instructions on the packet. Macsweens Haggis takes 9 minutes in a microwave. You can also use a veggie version.
At the same time, cook the swede in a pan of simmering salted water, with the lid on, for about 30 minutes until mashably soft.
Meanwhile, for the dhal, heat the oil in a second large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the coriander and cumin seeds, and the bay leaf if you have one, and fry briefly until they start to sizzle and pop. Add the garlic and ginger, with the turmeric if using, and fry gently, stirring, for another minute or two.
Add the rinsed lentils and 650ml water and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes until the lentils are soft and broken down and the dhal is thick, stirring often to stop it sticking and burning. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
In the meantime, heat the butter in a small pan and add the chopped onion and sage. Sauté for about 15 minutes until the onion is soft and golden. When the swede is cooked, drain it thoroughly then roughly mash with the fried sage and onion, some salt and lots of black pepper.
Put the shredded kale, greens or cabbage into a pan of boiling salted water and cook for about 5 minutes until tender. Drain well then toss with a small knob of butter.
Slice into the hot haggis with a sharp knife and spoon it out of the casing onto four warmed plates. Add a generous dollop of mashed swede to each plate and another of dhal, and finish with a pile of buttered greens. Serve straight away.