Cheap and easy dahl

A cheap and healthy dish that'll see you through those dreary end-of-the-month days.

Recipe from: 27 July 2012
Preparation time: 20 min
Cooking time: 1h


  • For the lentils
  • 50
    chana dal (chickpea)
  • 50
    urad dal (white lentils)
  • 50
    masoor dal (red lentils)
  • 100
    green moong or mung dal
  • 1
  • 8
    curry leaves (5 if using fresh)
  • 2
    star anise
  • 4
    cardamon pods
  • 4
    olive oil
  • salt - to season
  • 650
  • For the spice mix:
  • 3
    ghee or clarified butter
  • 1
    cumin seeds
  • 1
    coriander seeds
  • 2
    yellow mustard seeds
  • 1
    large onion - thinly sliced
  • 6
    cloves of garlic - thinly sliced
  • 20
    ginger - julienned
  • 3 - 4
    mild chillies slit into halves
  • 150
    cherry tomatoes -roughly chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 - 2
    chopped coriander
  • For the chapati:
  • 2
  • 3/4
    tepid water
  • 2
    Greek yoghurt
  • 1/2
Servings: Change Serving


Wash the lentils in warm water until the water runs clear. Soak in warm water for approximately an hour then drain.

Using a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the drained lentils along with the water. Bring to the boil and remove any scum that forms.

Add the turmeric, curry leaves, star anise, cardamon and olive oil. Cover and simmer until the lentils are almost cooked then add some salt. Allow the lentils to cook completely –they should be soft to the touch.

In the meantime, using a separate wide frying pan, heat the *ghee (clarified butter) until hot, then add the cumin, coriander, and mustard seeds. Once they begin to splutter, which will take a couple of seconds, add the onions.

Fry the onions slowly (on a low heat) until the onions start to slightly colour at the edges.

Add the garlic, chillies and the ginger. Continue to fry, until the whole mixture turns golden brown (from caramalising and not burning) – cook them slowly on a low heat.

Toss the onion mixture onto the lentils along with the chopped tomatoes. Stir in the lime juice and the chopped coriander.

Serve in bowls with a small dollop of yoghurt and homemade chapati

*Clarified butter: You can clarify any quantity of butter that you wish. If you want to make a specific quantity for a recipe, figure that you’ll lose about 25% of the volume of butter.

To clarify the butter melt a large block of unsalted butter until white solids appear on the surface. Skim off the white solids and allow the melted butter to melt until a slight nutty aroma is released.

Pour into a container making sure that any brown bits at the bottom of the pan are left behind. You can store clarified butter up to 3 months in the fridge.


Mix the yoghurt with the tepid water. Place the flour and the salt in a bowl. Slowly add the water to the flour until a slightly sticky dough forms. Knead the dough for 5 to 7minutes or until soft and smooth.

Divide the dough into 6-8 even balls. Roll out into a thin pancake shape and fry in a nonstick pan for 2-3 minutes on each side , or until brown bubbles appear. If using a stainless steal pan, fry in a tiny bit of canola oil or ghee. Once cooked brush with butter or ghee.

Reprinted with permission of Foodmonger. To see more recipes, click here.


Read more on: boil  |  meat-free mondays  |  pulses  |  recipe  |  vegetarian  |  dairy

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