Sunday, June 10, 2018

Red lentil dhal

How do you spell dhal / dal / daal? I vary back and forth but seem to favour dhal. I couldn't tell you why though and I am not aware of a rationale for one spelling over another.

However you spell it, dhal is a classic lentil dish and a recent addition to our regular meal rotation. I started making it as an alternative to the spiced carrot and red lentil soup that everyone in the house still loves, but which I got a bit sick of having every week. This dish is a great alternative that is still a hit with Mini Bite and Mr Bite (and me) but is a bit simpler to make, and nicely versatile in that you can pair it with rice or bread or even enjoy plain.

Dhal dishes are a favourite of my mother, so I am surprised not to have a recipe like this on the blog already. I think in the past, I lumped dried lentils in with dried beans and thought they needed advance soaking and/or long cooking times to make them edible. In fact, dried lentils cook quite quickly and you could make this dish in around half an hour. I still prefer to cook it on the weekend when I can set the lentils up in the morning and leave them to simmer whilst doing other things, but the active cooking time is minimal. 

Red lentil dhal
A classic, satisfying vegan meal
Serves 4

Author: Bite-sized thoughts, adapted from the many lentil dhal recipes available online

Drizzle of olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp dried ground paprika
1 tsp dried ground turmeric
1 tsp dried ground garam masala
1 cup dried red lentils
3 cups water
1 tin (375g) diced or crushed tomatoes
Pinch of salt, if desired and to taste

Rice and/or bread, to serve

In a very large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat and saute the onion until golden. Add the ginger, paprika, turmeric, garam masala and stir, cooking very briefly, just until fragrant.

Add the dried lentils and water. Bring to boiling point, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 20 - 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender .Add the tomatoes, stir through, and cook for a further 5 minutes or so.

Serve immediately, or allow to stand until needed. 

Pair with rice or naan bread as desired.

Are you a dhal fan? And how do you spell it?!


  1. I really love dal - it is great comfort food but I agree is hard to work out best spelling. I find it easy to whip up quickly because red lentils are so quick to cook - probably why they are among my most used legumes.

    1. I should have realised the quick cooking time earlier! At least I've joined the party now.

  2. I also favour dhal, but couldn't tell you why either. I love a good dhal (or however you spell it) - always hearty and filling, and still simple to make. Sometimes I just thicken it up a bit extra and use it as a pate.

    1. Turning it into pate is a great idea :-)

  3. I would also use “dhal”. This version looks very good.


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