Simple Dhal - Indian Lentil Dish

Simple Dhal Recipe 

For an easy dhal fix this recipe is ideal. No frills and with minimal ingredients, it’s just a hearty pot of lentil goodness to enjoy.

The recipe will make 3-4 generous portions which work very well as a side dish or served as a snack with rice or chapatis.

It can be used also as an ingredient to other dishes, for example in a dhansak or samber restaurant style curry. When I make this dhal I portion 120ml amounts into freezer bags. When wanting to use some in a curry I take a portion from the freezer and do a quick defrost in the microwave. It makes like easier – always have some dhal to hand.


  • 250g Red Split Lentils
  • 2 TBSP (30ml) Oil
  • 1 TBSP Cumin Seeds
  • 2 tsp Ginger/Garlic Paste
  • 2 tsp Curry Powder


  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • ½ tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 TBSP Tomato Purée
  • Hot Water


  1. Rinse the lentils in cold water several times.
  2. Add the oil to a saucepan on medium heat.
  3. When hot, add the cumin seeds and cook for 30-40 seconds.
  4. Then add the ginger/garlic paste and stir until it browns.
  5. Add the curry powder, turmeric, garam masala, and salt. Cook for a further 30-40 seconds, adding a splash of water to give the spices time to cook without sticking to the pan and burning.


  1. Now add the lentils and the tomato purée. Mix thoroughly to get the lentils evenly coated.
  2. Next add 1½ litres of hot water, stir, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down a bit to achieve a gentle rolling simmer.
  3. Leave to cook for 45-60 minutes, or until the lentils have fully softened. The final thickness is down to your preference – add more water if you want, but bear in mind that when the dhal has cooled it will thicken up of its own accord.
  4. Taste and add salt to taste if desired.


  • All spoon measurements are level (1 tsp = 5ml, 1 TBSP = 15ml).


Books by Richard Sayce

Indian Restaurant Curry at Home Volume 1
Indian Restaurant Curry at Home Volume 2 Front Cover
Curry Compendium Cookbook


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