The Humble Dhal - Vegetarian and Vegan

This quick and easy vegan-friendly dhal is the perfect addition to a family meal. A pretty standard side dish to serve alongside a meat dish, or another vegetarian dish, this dhal transforms a simple family dinner into a hearty meal. 

Dhal is also super cost-effective! With 500g of red lentils costing just £1 (or less), this dhal only cost me around 20p! It takes less than 30 minutes to prepare - great for working parents, and is loaded with protein (necessary for healthy growth), fibre and iron - nutritional benefits for the whole family!

Vegetarian and Vegan Dhal recipe. Simple, easy and quick family recipe. 

Serves 4 (when served alongside another curry). Total preparation time: 10mins Total cooking time: 20-25mins.


  • 50ml (2fl oz/ ¼ cup) olive oil
  • 1 cardamom pod – black
  • 3 whole cloves 1 onion – peeled, chopped
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tomato – washed, chopped
  • Handful of fresh coriander – washed, chopped
  • 100g (3 ½ oz./ ½ cup) red lentils  – soaked in water for 10mins
  • 375ml (12 ½ fl.oz/ 1 ½ cups) water
  • Salt to taste (optional)
  • Red chilli powder to taste (optional)


Heat the oil in a pot and add the cardamom pod, cloves and onion. Stir-fry on med-high heat until the onion is golden and looks a little crisp. Turn to low heat and add the garlic, ginger and stir-fry for a minute, then add the tomato, fresh coriander, cumin and ground coriander. Stir continuously cooking for 3-4 mins until the tomatoes are mushy.

Drain the lentils and rinse. Then add to the pot and stir to coat in the delicious spices.

Pour in the water, stir, bring to the boil and simmer covered on low heat for 20-25 mins (checking halfway) until tender. Feel free to add extra water if the dhal begins to look too dry at any point.

Once cooked, remove a serving for your little one and set aside ensuring no whole garam masalas (cloves/ cardamom) remain.

Add salt and chilli to the main pot and stir (if using).

Garnish your little ones serving, and the main family serving with fresh coriander and dish up with naan, roti or basmati rice, and a yummy meat, or veggie curry of your choice.

Find 100’s more recipes, friendly advice and nutritional info in my award-winning weaning cookbooks