Cheap, Healthy, Quick: Dal Recipe

You’ve probably encountered dal (dahl) in your local Indian restaurant but you might not have thought about making it yourself. Well, I’m here to tell you that I think it’s an incredibly cost-effective, healthy dish that you can knock up pretty easily so I think you should give it a try.

What you’ll need:

  • Lentils – these can be red lentils or the yellow split-pea type lentils. You want as many of these as you fancy eating. I think I had about 400g and that yielded ~5 portions (all of the below are based on ratios for the 400g lentils)
  • 1 onion – finely chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tsp turmeric
  • 3 tsp garam masala
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 red chilli – finely chopped (or more if you like it hot)
  • Ginger (1 thumb-ish) – either lazy puree or the fresh stuff, finely chopped
  • Glug of oil – I used olive but anything you like will do
  • Optional – tomatoes and coriander

What you do:

  1. Pop your lentils into a pan, cover with enough water to have ~3cm of water above the lentils. Put them on to boil.
  2. In a dry pan, heat the cumin seeds until they start to darken – you’re toasting them. Set to one side when toasted.
  3. Using that same pan, now add the glug of oil and fry off the onion, garlic, ginger and tomatoes if you have them until soft.

Dal Fry4. When the lentils reach the boil, drop them down to a simmer. Add all other ingredients, except the coriander if you have that.

5. Simmer until the lentils become mushy and most of the water has gone. Taste. Season with salt and pepper. Add more of the other spices if you feel you want to.

6. Garnish with the coriander.

  7. Serve and enjoy!

You can see it’s a really easy dish to create and the whole thing end to end takes about 15 minutes. My advice is that if you’re not familiar with these spices, add a little at a time because it’s very easy to add more but impossible to take any out.


Mine, served with the BF’s potato curry. YUM!


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