The ‘Humble’ Dhal (V)

I’ve been very excited these last few days… A few weeks back I was interviewed by a journalist who was asking about ‘the humble curry’ and the health benefits of spices in the run up to National Curry Week (which is this week). Anyway I completely forgot about it whilst dealing with my everyday whirlwind life and a couple of days ago I received an excited call from my mother. She was reading the Leicester Mercury Extra and almost fell off her chair when she saw my name pop up in the article she was reading. And that’s not the best part…. I was only in the same article as Anjum Anand!!! Celebrity TV Chef (she has had her own cooking series on the BBC and is author of four cookbooks). How chuffed am I?! You can read the article here.

But back to my recipe… this ‘humble’ dhal is the perfect addition to a family meal which requires ‘padding out’. For example if you have leftover curry from the night before and there’s not enough for everyone; I like to cook this tasty dhal as an ‘add-on’ dish which when served alongside leftover curry, transforms half-a-meal into a full and satisfying family meal for everyone. So there is no leftover wastage!

Creating a hearty family meal isn’t the only value this ‘humble’ dhal can provide….

  • It’s a bargain! 500g of red lentils costs just £1. So this dhal costs just 20p!
  • Takes less than 30mins to prepare - great for working parents
  • Loaded with protein (necessary for healthy growth), fibre and iron - nutritional benefits for the whole family
Humble Curry

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 followed by the cumin and ground coriander. Continue to stir-fry for a further minute then add the tomato, fresh coriander, stir and cook for 3-4 mins.

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) are included.

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