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Simply awesome, super easy vegetable dhal

  • Author: Tooting Mama
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 as a side dish 1x
  • Category: Side dish
  • Cuisine: Sri Lankan


  • 300g red lentils (washed)
  • 600 mls water (up to a litre)
  • 1 courgette cut into batons
  • 1 clove of garlic (peeled)
  • 1 dried red chilli, crushed 
  • 1 carrot cut into batons
  • 100g frozen peas
  • a pinch of fenugreek seeds
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 dried red chilli crushed (more if you want more heat)
  • 1 tbsp Maldive fish flakes (optional)
  • a generous pinch of curry leaves
  • 1 large yellow onion sliced 
  • 4 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cm fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 50g baby spinach
  • Salt to taste


  1. Put the washed lentils into a medium-sized saucepan. Add the water. Into this drop in the peeled clove of garlic, the deseeded chilli, the courgette and carrot batons, frozen peas, a pinch of fenugreek seeds and the turmeric
  2. Bring the water to the boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat and allow the lentils to simmer.
  3. Let the lentil simmer for around 35-40 minutes. Occasionally skim of the foam that will develop. Give the lentil the occasional stir
  4. The water will start to reduce, but what you are looking for is for the lentils to become mushy and creamy. If the lentils start to dry out, add more water and give the lentils a good stir
  5. You can continue to keep the lentils cooking while you temper the  spices, onion, garlic, ginger and spinach
  6. In a small frying pan heat the oil before adding the cumin and mustard seeds, chilli, Maldive fish and curry leaves
  7. Once the seeds start popping add the onion. Lower the heat, and allow the onions to cook, let them become transparent
  8. Now add the garlic, ginger, and continue to stir
  9. Add the baby spinach. Toss the spinach in the onion, garlic, ginger and spices. Allow the spinach to wilt and soak up the spices
  10. As the onions start to brown, tip the contents of the frying pan and stir into the dhal. Mix thoroughly
  11. Now, add salt. Be generous, don’t skimp, it’s the salt that makes this recipe. And keep tasting, you’re fine-tuning the dhal to a taste YOU love
  12. Got a taste you love? Serve up immediately with your favourite curry and rice
  13. Or just keep it simple, rice and a helping of lime pickle