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A step-by-step guide to mastering this simple curry.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Lentil soak time2 hrs
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian, Malaysian
Servings: 4


  • 135 g red lentils
  • 500 ml water
  • 3 cloves garlic smashed
  • 3 slices ginger
  • 1 small carrot cut into circles
  • 1 small potato cut into cubes
  • few cauliflower florets
  • tsp good quality curry powder
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 10 c piece of tamarind soaked in 3 tbsp water
  • salt to taste

for tempering

  • 4 tbsp oil or ghee
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 20 curry leaves
  • 3 whole dried chilli


  • Soak lentils in water for 2-3 hours, until they’ve expanded in size. You don’t have to do this, but it does speed up the cooking time considerably.
  • Drain water from lentils, then add garlic, ginger and 500ml clean water. Bring to the boil and cook until the lentils are soft and have expanded, about 10-15 minutes.
  • Check that the lentils have softened - use the back of a wooden spoon to smush one. If you’d like to freeze the dahl into smaller portions, this is a good stage to do it.
  • Add the vegetables to the lentils and cook for a further 5-10 minutes. Add more water if your dahl is getting too thick.
  • Add curry powder, chilli powder, tumeric powder and tamarind water to the dahl and cook for a further 5 minutes until the vegetables are cooked. Continue to add more water if you prefer a thinner dahl, bearing in mind that it will thicken up as it cools.
  • Heat oil or ghee in a small frypan and cook onions. Add mustard seeds and continue to cook until they pop. Add dried chilli and curry leaves and fry until aromatic. Add this mixture to the dahl and stir.
  • Season to taste with salt.