When life gives you lentils…

Dahl makes me think of two things: Roald Dahl (obviously) and Neighbours. Like many of you, I grew up with the Australian soap and I loved the Kennedy family, although less so their pet galah (as in flaming galah, the phrase favoured by Alf Stewart in Home and Away) which for some reason was named Dahl and rather irritating.

Anyway, tonight I made dahl (or dhal – what is the correct spelling? I’d like to know) because it’s mid-March and it’s freezing. I’m also skint as it’s approaching pay day and I have six weddings and almost as many hen dos to attend this year – so go figure.

I’ve just come back from a weekend in Northumberland to celebrate my friend Ruth’s wedding. It was a lovely break but I’m knackered and in need of nourishment.  I decided to make what I call my ‘anything goes’ dahl as it’s super speedy to make and it’ll last me until pay day. Go on, get the violins out…

Lentils are a great food cupboard staple, as they’re cheap, super filling and a good source of protein.  I also cleared the fridge of all the veg that’s been sitting there for weeks so out came the manky carrots, the courgette and half an onion. I contemplated beetroot but couldn’t be bothered with the mess, plus have you ever tried grating beetroot? It’s such a workout.

I served mine with cauliflower rice (because a. I’m feeling fat and b. I had half a cauliflower languishing in the salad drawer) but you could have this with ordinary rice or just on its own. FYI, you can use a food processor to turn the cauliflower into ‘rice’ but I used a grater as it’s just as quick and easy.


Here’s the recipe for both. I hope you enjoy.

For the dahl…

Serves 3-4


1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil or coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed or very finely chopped
20g root ginger, finely grated
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp dried coriander
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/4 tsp curry powder
180g (dry weight) red lentils, rinsed well in a sieve under a running tap
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder (I use the vegan one)
1 courgette, grated (plus chuck in any other veg you have that needs eating up, such as beetroot, carrots, and even parsnips and potatoes – just make sure that you grate it or slice it finely)

First of all, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat and soften the onion. When it starts to turn translucent, add the ginger and garlic. Stir well and once they start to release their aroma, add all the spices. Stir well and add a splash of water if they start to catch. After a minute or so, add the lentils and the salt and stir well. Add the vegetable bouillon powder and 500ml boiling water. Cook for about 10 minutes over a medium heat until the lentils turn pale yellow, then add the grated courgette and 300ml more boiling water. Give it another good stir but don’t be too vigorous or you’ll slop dahl all over yourself. Thank God I’m wearing black as turmeric is a bitch to wash out.

Simmer over a medium heat for 10 more minutes until the courgette is tender and the lentils are cooked, adding more water if it seems too dry.

For the cauliflower rice…


1 cauliflower

1 tbsp of coconut oil

Salt and pepper

Half a lemon



Roughly chop the cauliflower into small pieces and grate using the rough part of a box grater. Heat the coconut oil with 2 tbsp of water and sauté the cauliflower with a pinch of salt for 5 minutes until cooked through. Stir in 2 tbsp of juice and serve with the dahl.

3 thoughts on “When life gives you lentils…

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