Fragrant Dhal

While shooting Tandoori Chicken Kebabs for's blog, I felt inspired to use the red lentils in my cupboard and cooked dhal for the first time in my life. This Basic Tarka Dhal caught my eye on Jamie Oliver's website. Not only was I proud of myself for making it, at the same time I thought, "why the hell has it taken me almost 34 years to experience and cook this fragrant, wholesome and comforting pot of lentils, it's so damn delicious!?''.  And so easy to make. I will most certainly cook dhal as often as I can [because I'm mildly addicted now] and look forward to trying different variations!
[adapted from Jamie Oliver's recipe]
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Side Dish
Servings 4


  • 250 g red lentils
  • 7.5 ml turmeric
  • 30 ml butter or ghee or replace with coconut oil if vegan
  • 7.5 ml cumin seeds
  • 2.5 ml garam masala
  • 2.5 ml ground coriander
  • half an onion finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 15 ml grated fresh ginger
  • 2.5-5 ml chilli paste sambal oelek
  • 1 ripe tomato finely chopped
  • handful of fresh coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Place the lentils in a pot ( I used AMC Cookware's 20 cm Gourmet High saucepan) and cover with double the amount of water. Bring to the boil and skim off any foam/skum that rises to the surface. Reduce heat, add turmeric, half of the butter, cover and simmer over gentle heat until it becomes a porridge consistency.
  • Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan ( I used AMC Cookware's 16 cm Gourmet Low saucepan) heat the other half of the butter and cook the spices until fragrant, add the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and tomato and cook until softened and aromatic. Remove from the heat and wait until the lentils are cooked to desired consistency. If too thick, add a bit more water, if too runny, simmer some more.
  • Add the aromatic mixture and fresh coriander to the pot of cooked lentils. Season to taste.
  • For a delicious vegetarian meal, serve hot with basmati rice, roti or naan. And don't forget the sambals!
  • We enjoyed it served with garlic naan, homemade raita and grilled tandoori kebabs.


Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!