Dhal and rice - a simple yet satisfying meal

This is one of my favourite simple meals to prepare quickly and is super satisfying and flavourful and so inexpensive to make. It’s a staple for me. I love it with rice but also have it in my veggie bowls and even for breakfast with eggs and toast and I could even eat it as a soup.

Dhal bowl

Here’s just a little info about what it actually is. Dhal (or dal or daal) is the Indian term for dried or split peas. In this recipe I use red lentils. Red lentils like all lentils are super high in protein in fact when served with rice or a wheat component they become a complete protein, one that contains all the essential amino acids necessary in ones diet. In other words dhal and rice is a complete meal. This is especially good for vegetarians and vegans looking for complete protein meals. They are also high in fibre, low in calories, basically fat free except for the oil (butter or ghee) added in later, quick and easy to make as I said before, super cheap if you’re on a budget, substantial and filling and delicious! An added benefit to this dish is that it has turmeric powder in it too! So you get a little immunity and antioxidant boost in it as well as a wonderfully colourful dish.

super cheap if you’re on a budget, substantial and filling and delicious

There are many little variations to this recipe. Some people add in more garlic, or add in ginger or bayleaf, or more pimentos and add curry too. This is a very basic recipe for dhal that you are free to play up by adding what you would like to it. So I hope you enjoy making this simple, quick and perfect for a midweek meal dhal and serve it up with some hot rice or roti.

Dhal bowl

Recipe for Dhal


  • 1 cup of red lentils
  • 2 cups water plus more if needed
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder (also known here as saffron powder)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic sliced
  • 1 small onion (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp oil- coconut or any oil or I use butter or ghee as well
  • 1 tsp of cumin seed (geera)
  • 2-3 pimentos chopped or a hot scotch bonnet pepper (for less heat remove seeds and only use a small portion of it instead of whole, or put in whole and remove before you swizzle or blend it and it bursts)


  1. Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a medium sauce pan

  2. Once it comes to a boil add lentils, turmeric, garlic excluding one clove, peppers, and onion if your using. Reduce heat until it’s a light simmer then cover pot and cook until peas are tender. Check often to see if you need to add a little more water. You don’t want it to be dry but more of a soup consistency because it will continue to thicken even after.

  3. Add salt to taste and then blend or use a swizzle stick to purée the lentils.

  4. For the ‘chunkay’ (spices fried in oil and then poured into the dhal)

  5. It’s important to chunkay the cumin seeds which turns into smoky fiery flavour thats then added to the dhal. Sometimes I pound them a bit in a mortar before I put them in the oil to release even more flavour into the oil and then into the whole pot of dhal. (Chunkay is traditionally made in a tiny pot or ladle over a direct flame)

  6. Heat oil butter or ghee in a small frying pan at medium high heat

  7. Add cumin seeds and sliced garlic and let them brown but not burn (I love to use butter because this process lets it become brown butter and adds its own dimension of flavour to the dish) * you could also add in more pimento peppers, a knob of ginger and a 1/2 tsp of curry also at this point for extra flavour and let them sizzle away with the garlic and seeds- remove knob of ginger before serving

  8. Pour oil and spice mixture into the dhal carefully because it will sizzle and splatter a bit. Mix well and serve over hot rice or Roti or anything your little heart desires!

![Dhal bowl](/img/JAN2017/dhal_4.jpg)