Red lentil dhal

Dhal is a dish of dried legumes cooked to a soft puree and served alongside curries, often eaten with flatbread for scooping.

Season:  All year

Type:  Side dishes

Difficulty:  Easy

Makes:  1 cup

Fresh from the garden:  garlic, chilli

Recipe source: Adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Cooking with Kids


  • bowls-2 small, 1 large
  • chopping board
  • knives-1 small, 1 large
  • sieve
  • medium saucepan
  • metric measuring cups and jug
  • wooden spoon
  • tea towel
  • serving bowl
  • small non-stick frying


  • 200g split red lentils
  • 10 stems coriander
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1×5 cm piece fresh ginger
  • 1 long green chilli
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

What to do

  • Tip the lentils into the large bowl, cover with water and leave to soak for 5 minutes. Soak the coriander in a small bowl of water.
  • Finely chop the garlic and place in a small bowl. Cut the chilli (put on some rubber gloves) in half lengthways. Scrap the seeds into the rubbish bin. Slice the chilli finely and add to the bowl with the garlic and ginger. Wash the chopping board and knife.
  • Put the sieve in the sink, then tip in the lentils and soaking water. Transfer the strained lentils to the saucepan and add 3 cups of water, the garlic, ginger and chilli, the turmeric and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 20-30 minutes or until the lentils are soft, stirring from time to time.
  • Meanwhile, lift the coriander from its soaking water and dry by rolling in the tea towel. Chop the coriander and stir into the dhal. Tip the dhal into the serving bowl.
  • Heat the butter and mustard seeds in the small frying pan over a medium heat for 1 minute or until the butter turns golden and the mustard seeds start to pop. Quickly spoon the butter mixture over the bowl of dhal and serve.

Did you know?

  • Black mustard seeds are the hottest of all seeds, and the ones used in Indian cooking. White mustard seeds are actually a brownish-yellow, and are used to make yellow mustard.
  • When the seeds burst open, they release their nutty flavour, reducing the heat of the seeds and adding flavour to the oil or butter used for the frying.

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