Happy Dal

Contributed by MS

A dear friend of mine taught me how to make this years ago, and it has been a staple in my house ever since. Dal is cheap, filling, comforting and healthy. I often add spinach to boost the nutritional value. I asked my friend what she’d like me to name the recipe, and she replied “Dal that we have and make together is happy Dal”.

  • Serves 4 as a main meal or 6 as a side.
  • Cost: approximately 28p per serving.
  • Vegan
  • Keeps in the fridge for 2 days
  • Freeze for up to 3 months
  • Add a dash of water if reheating from chilled or frozen
  • Can be made in a slow cooker


  • 250g dried red lentils
  • 2 tbsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 tsp dried/fresh chilli (to taste)
  • 4 large or 6 small cloves garlic – crushed
  • 2 tsp fresh/frozen/dried coriander
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1-2 tsp black pepper (to taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1-2 litres water


  • Put the lentils into a large saucepan and cover with 1 litre cold water. Soak for 1 hour (you can skip this step but it significantly reduces the cooking time). Once soaked, add another 1/2 – 1 litre of water, until you have about double the amount of water to lentils in the pan.

  • Add the turmeric to the lentils and water and stir in.  On a high heat, bring the lentils almost to the boil. Just before the water is boiling, turn down to a low heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for approximately 60 mins, until the lentils have lost their shape and you have a thick soup-like consistency. You may need to add more water during the simmering stage, depending on whether you prefer a thicker or thinner consistency.

  • Garnish – This is the most important step and adds the flavour to the dish. In a separate pan, heat the oil on a medium heat. Add the garlic, chilli, coriander and cumin, and sauté for 30-60 seconds, or until the garlic is just starting to brown.

  • Take off the heat and pour the oil and spice mixture to the lentils, stirring in well.

  • Add salt and pepper and serve with rice and/or naan and salad, or as a side with other dishes

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