Dhal recipe

(66 ratings)

This creamy classic vegetarian Indian dhal recipe is perfect served with fresh naan bread or poppadoms & uses lentils & is packed full of flavour

  • Vegetarian
Preparation Time10 mins
Cooking Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Cost RangeCheap

A dhal is a thick spicy vegetarian Indian dish made with pulses and is an excellent source of cheap vegetable protein. It’s delicious served on its own with boiled rice, chappatis, naan bread or poppadoms or serve as a vegetable accompaniment to curry. This recipe use red split lentils but you can use other pulses such as mung beans or split peas – you may need to add more liquid or cook for a little longer depending on the variety used.


  • 3tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 red or green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • ½tsp ground turmeric
  • 1tsp chilli powder
  • 225g red split lentils
  • ½tsp salt
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • Fresh mint sprig, to garnish




  1. Heat 2tbsp of the oil in a large pan and fry the onion for 4-5 mins until softened. Add the garlic and chilli and fry for a further 1-2 mins.
  2. Add the turmeric, chilli powder and lentils to the pan and cook, stirring, for 1 min. Pour in 500ml water and half of the salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cover with a tight fitting lid. Simmer for 20-25 mins until the lentils are very soft and nearly all the water has been absorbed.
  3. Simmer, uncovered for a further 5-10 mins then beat the dhal with a wooden spoon. Season to taste with the rest of the salt
  4. Heat the remaining oil in a small frying pan and fry the cumin seeds for 1-2 mins until fragrant. Spoon the seeds and oil over the dhal and serve garnished with a fresh mint sprig.
Top Tip for making Dhal

Add some skinned and chopped fresh tomatoes with the lentils or stir in some baby spinach leaves towards the end of the cooking time, if liked.