Dhal…so your rice doesn’t feel lonely.

So, we have our rice, in the freezer. What next?

There are a million ways to make dhal (almost as many ways to spell it!): the variants are the type of pulse, what is added during the cooking process, and what is thrown in at the end. If it is an accompaniement to meat and other dishes, you may wish it to be quite plain. Here we are looking at making it a meal.

The one I’ve been cooking most, lately, is a very basic everyday concoction, which lends itself to variation – whether that be a matter of season or convenience. It is based on Jaffrey’s Zucchini dalcha in her World Vegetarian book.

Preparing the vegetables while the lentils are simmering away.
Preparing the vegetables while the lentils are simmering away.


a cup of red lentils, washed and picked over if necessary
a bit less than 4 cups of water
half a teaspoon of tumeric
2 large zucchinis chopped into 1 inch chunks
3 carrots peeled and chopped into half an inch pieces

ghee or vegetable oil, several tablespoons
4 green cardamom pods
1.5 inch stick cinnamon
2 bay leaves
half teasp cumin seeds
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 teasps peeled ginger mashed or finely chopped
several cloves of garlic mashed or finely chopped
freshly ground pepper
chilli powder for the brave or cayenne for the chickens to taste
lime or lemon juice to taste
chopped coriander


Bring the lentils to the boil, skim the scum, if any, off the top, and simmer gently until cooked, maybe half an hour or so. Stir as may be necessary. Add more water if necessary.


In a frying pan or wok heat the ghee/oil over medium high heat. When very hot put in the spices and after stirring them a few times, add the onion. When it is somewhere between brown flecked and medium brown, add the ginger and garlic. Stir for a minute or so and add the vegetables and the salt, pepper, chilli, stir to mix well.

Add half a cup of water, bring to the boil, put lid on pan and cook the vegetables in their seasoning for maybe five minutes. Now add the contents of this pan to the dhal. Continue cooking until the vegetables are as you would like them.

When ready, take off the heat, add lemon juice judiciously – ie, you can always add more, but you can’t take it back what’s in there – chopped coriander and serve.

This freezes splendidly. Once you have rice and dhal in the freezer, you have the makings of a meal with no effort whatsoever and one that in my household could get happily get eaten several times a week.

It is obvious that vegetables can be added to taste: green beans, peas, potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, it is hard to think of a vegetable that couldn’t go into this dish.

Not that we’ve finished with dhal and rice and what to do with it. Back soon with more.


5 thoughts on “Dhal…so your rice doesn’t feel lonely.

  1. That’s really what you think????!!! Surely even for a person who doesn’t really fancy rice, it is normal accompaniment to dhal, unless one is serving a soup version.


  2. I tried this recipe – bit dissapointed at first but like many curries the next day it was excellent – couple of queries – my lentils went mushy – is there a preferred sort of red lentil ie the whole type ones of the half type ones ? – what about a brown lentil ? – chick peas ? – also it went a bit dry whilst cooking meaning a lot more water than suggested ?


    • It is true, I’d never eat it straight after making it, though I’m happy to make it early in the day I’m going to eat it. I use bog standard red lentils for this – and yes, it does go mushy, that’s what’s supposed to happen. I don’t really want to change this, there are a million different recipes out there for different sorts of lentils etc. It does get thicker, amazing how that happens and yeah, just add water as necessary. I guess you could do it with chickpeas and have a totally different thing. I have a few chickpea recipes I already use, I’ll put a couple up!

      Anyway. try another thing in it and report back please!


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