Char-grilled squid with chana dal and preserved lemon

Chana dal are skinless dried split chickpeas used in Indian cooking. They have a great texture and delicate flavour. Fine alternatives are yellow split peas, moong dal and most lentils. Adjust the cooking times according to the instructions on the packet.

4 people

Serving size


6 large red peppers
210g chana dal, washed and soaked in cold water for 30 minutes
3 tbsp finely chopped preserved lemon skin 
3 tbsp olive oil 
3 tbsp harissa paste 
4 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
4 tbsp roughly chopped coriander, plus extra to garnish
2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and crushed with a pestle and mortar
Coarse sea salt
600g cleaned squid, butterflied and cut into 5cm-square pieces


  1. Use a small, sharp knife to cut around the stalk of each pepper and lift it out with the seeds attached. Put the peppers on an oven tray, place underneath a very hot grill, as close to the heat as you can get it, and roast, turning every now and then, until they are black on the outside - this should take 25-30 minutes. When ready, remove, cover the tray with foil and leave to cool down slightly. Once you can handle the peppers, remove and discard the blackened skin, then let the peppers cool down further in a bowl, then tear into 3cm wide slices.

  2. Meanwhile, drain the chana dal from their soaking water, transfer to a medium saucepan, cover with plenty of cold water and bring to a simmer. After about 25 minutes, they should be ready, but check they are tender before draining. Wash under cold water and leave to dry.

  3. When you are ready to assemble the dish, place the dal in a medium nonstick pan together with the pepper slices, some of the pepper juices that will have exuded out into the bowl, the preserved lemon, half the oil, a third of the harissa, the parsley and the fresh and dry coriander. Toss gently over medium heat, just to warm up, making sure the peppers don't break down in the process. Taste and season generously with salt.

  4. Meanwhile, place a ridged griddle pan on the stove top and leave it on maximum heat for about five minutes - it needs to get burning hot. (You can also do this on a barbecue.) Toss the squid with half the olive oil, the remaining harissa and a bit of salt. Spread the squid tentacles and pieces, cut side facing up, in the hot pan and cook quickly to get some grilling marks on one side before turning over. The process shouldn't take more than a minute or two. You will probably need to cook the squid in a few batches, depending on the size of your pan. Just make sure the pieces are spaced well apart.
  5. To serve, pile up the dal mix, alternating with the squid pieces, and top the stack with the squid tentacles. Finish off with a trickle of oil and some more chopped coriander.
Preserved Lemons, Belazu
Rose Harissa, Belazu