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Shanthini’s Dhal

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A family recipe from a very old Indian friend. I’ve been making this for years – cheap and tasty! Double the ingredients if you want more


  • 3/4/ cup red lentils (this is around 125 g)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1 tsp cooking oil for the lentils, more for frying
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2/3 tin of tomatoes, or 3 – 4 ripe medium fresh tomatoes
  • 1 whole Red chilli



  1. Rinse the lentils with cold water, then cover with the water, add the turmeric and oil, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes or so until tender and cooked – it should like a yellow porridge
  2. Heat some more oil in a frying pan. When hot, add the cumin seeds (and optional whole chilli) and stir fry for a minute
  3. Add the onion and garlic, and stir until the onion is nicely browned (about 15 minutes in my experience)
  4. Add the coriander, cumin, and chilli powders and copeck fro another minute
  5. Press the tomatoes into the onion and spice mixture, breaking them up fine. Heat through.
  6. Add the cooked lentils to the onions and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes. Serve with basmati rice.


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