Red Lentil Dhal

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A healthier offering for a change, dear vegan chums! Of late I have fallen madly in love with the daily dhal available at the splendid 8th Day Café. Obviously all the time I spend in there hoovering up my usual (dhal with halfpotatoeshalfbroccoliplease) is pure research and nothing more. Since it’s a little rude to ask for the recipe, I decided today that I’d spent enough time “familiarising” myself with the dish to try and recreate it myself.

Red lentil dhal is a pretty standard recipe as it goes, but here’s my take on it. As you might expect there’s quite a full complement of spices involved, but if you’re into cooking I’d recommend stocking up on this stuff cheap and in bulk at the Chinese/Asian supermarket and then investing in some mini jars (or keeping your olde jam jars) and storing them. Behold my scientific system! My kitchen is very small so I keep all my herbs, spices, etc, in a stack of plastic shoe boxes which I bought cheaply from Sainsbury’s……


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 250g split red lentils
  • 1/2 pint vegetable stock
  • 1 tin peeled plum tomatoes
  • a few cubes o’ frozen spinach
  • salt & pepper to taste


Take a large pan and sauté the onion, garlic and red pepper until soft. Add the tomatoes. Add the seeds, spices and lentils and mix well. Add the stock and tinned tomatoes, and stir thoroughly. Allow the dhal to bubble over a low heat for around 30 minutes, adding the frozen spinach after 15 mins. Add salt & pepper to taste. Serve over a bed of fluffy white rice.

Spices aside, this is a pretty basic dish. And you may be interested to know that lentils + rice = a complete protein, so it’s good for you too! Also, this makes a pretty big pot ‘o dhal, so put any leftovers in the fridge or freezer.


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