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A red lentil dal is one of those classic staple dishes everyone should have up their sleeve. It’s comforting, wholesome, easy to double or triple for larger parties, caters for most dietary needs, and best of all — it’s easy as pie. Easier, actually.

You will need

Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils (red split lentils or Masoor dahl)
  • 3 cups water (for soaking)
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or preferred cooking oil)
  • 2 brown onions, peeled and finely wedged
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3cm piece of ginger, skin removed and finely grated
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4–5 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 3–4 large handfuls (100g) baby spinach, rinsed well
  • 2 cups basmati rice (rinsed well)
  • 4 cups water

To serve (optional)

  • Coriander leaves
  • Mango chutney
  • Freshly ground pepper and salt
  • Coconut yoghurt

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5 mins to prep

60 mins to soak

30 mins to cook

  1. Step 1

    Rinse the lentils well and place into a large bowl with the soaking water and vinegar. After soaking for 30-60 minutes* drain and rinse well.

  2. Step 2

    Heat a large stockpot or saucepan over medium heat. Add coconut oil and heat for 30 seconds, then add onions, garlic, cumin, coriander seeds, turmeric and ginger. Reduce heat to low and sauté, stirring regularly, for approximately 10 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add tomato paste and sauté for a further 2 minutes, regularly stirring.

  3. Step 3

    Meanwhile, add the rinsed rice and water to a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and cook a further 12 minutes (lid on, slightly ajar) or until all of the liquid has been completely absorbed. Do not stir or touch the rice during this time. Once the rice has cooked remove the lid, fluff it with a fork and then immediately place the lid back on the saucepan for 5 minutes to help steam and tenderise the rice. Continue onto step 4 while the rice cooks.

  4. Step 4

    Add lentils and stock (add less stock if you prefer thicker dahl, and more stock if you prefer more soupy dahl). Cover and bring to a boil, then leave the lid ajar and simmer for 25 minutes. Finally, add baby spinach and cook for a further 2 minutes.

  5. Step 5

    To serve, add rice to a bowl, top with dahl and the optional extras you prefer.

Hot tip!

*Traditionally red lentils are soaked for 30–60 minutes, however you can soak them up to 8 hours if you find them a little difficult to digest.

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