Karen Martini’s Dhal

I apologise for the below-average photos. I take photos using natural light and these photos were taken in the evening right before I was about to eat so the conditions weren’t so great.


Ahhh Dhal! One of life’s greatest pleasures is eating, and one of my greatest pleasures is eating dhal. I could eat it anytime of the day – breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert (maybe not) you name it. In fact, I do. For breakfast I like to have it on some toasted sourdough bread with spinach and topped with a poached egg.

I suspect some of you may have never heard of dhal, let alone eaten it. So let me open your eyes into the wonderful world that is filled with dhal.

However you want to spell it – dhal, dahl, daal or dal – it is an Indian vegetarian curry-like dish made of predominately dried red lentils, spices and sometimes, vegetables. It can be eaten by itself with rice and naan or served as a side to other curries such as Butter Chicken. Which is where I was first introduced to dhal.

For those of you who live in Australia, do you remember last years My Kitchen Rules series with the two South Australia girls, Bree and Jessica? Yes, them. They ended up winning the show, the whole shebang, so it’s no surprise that my love for dhal was brought about by one of their recipes cooked on the show.

One day my mum was hosting an Indian themed dinner party with a few friends and she had decided on cooking Bree and Jessica’s Butter Chicken with Red Lentil Dhal and rice – which can be found here. It is fair to say it went down well and since then myself and my family (mainly my mum and I) have fallen into a love affair with the humble Dhal. Simple as that.

So, when my mum and I went to the library the other day she picked up Karen Marini’s, Everyday cookbook and there was a recipe for dhal, I just had to try it.

And please, don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients, it is fairly straightforward to make.


Karen Martini’s Dhal

Serves 4*


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 brown onions, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5-cm piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 long green chilli, split lengthways
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons ground turmeric
  • ½ tablespoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 5 litres vegetable stock
  • 350g red lentils, rinsed
  • 200g brown lentils
  • 1 x 400g tin kidney beans, drained
  • 2 teaspoons salt flakes, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 handfuls of chopped coriander, to serve
  • 2 tablespoons Greek-style yogurt, to serve
  • Juice of one lemon, to serve
  • Flat bread, naan or poppadum’s to serve


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring often, for 6 minutes until the onion is translucent. Stir in the chilli and spices and cook for another minute.
  2. Stirring constantly, add the stock, red and brown lentils, kidney beans and salt to the pan. Bring to boil, turn down the heat to low, cover and let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are very tender.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for several minutes more until it is a thick, soupy consistency. Add water if necessary.
  4. Serve topped with coriander, yogurt, a squeeze of lemon and some flatbread along side.


*Whilst the recipe says it serves 4 it actually makes heaps and could probably serve as much as 10. It also freezes very well.


For dinner I served my dhal with some rice and flat bread, on a bed on spinach topped with Greek-style yogurt, corianderand a lemon wedge

This recipe is a little bit different to my mum’s dhal (which I will get round to posting one day), which uses coconut milk and has no tomato paste or kidney beans. However, it is still just as delicious.

The Lowdown:

Red lentils go mushy when cooked so they are ideal for dishes like these, which need either a soupy or mushy consistency. Lentils are also very inexpensive, healthy and provide a great source of protein for vegetarians. “Cooked lentils provide 18 grams of protein per cup, with less than 1 gram of fat, negligible saturated fat and no cholesterol. A cup of lentils provides 87 percent of the iron men need daily and 38 percent of the amount a woman needs.”

This dish is also extremely filling so be careful of portion sizes, – not that it matters too much right? I mean it’s a very healthy dish – I know I always eat way too much and feel as if I wont be able to eat for another week, but that never happens.

Whether you are vegetarian or not (I’m not) this is a great meal to try and I am sure even the fussiest of eater will like it. It’s great for the environment and yourself to have a couple of days a week without meat so this would be an ideal dinner dish for your Meatless Monday night (you see what I’m getting at).

Tanisha xx


Everyday by Karen Martini



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