Curry for Change

Changing the lives of families
who suffer from hunger.

Tarka Dhal


Serves 8

400g red split lentils

600ml water

½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt

1 green chilli

1 bay leaf

1 small onion, sliced finely

4/5 cloves garlic, sliced finely

3 tbsp vegetable oil

Small bunch of coriander, chopped


  1. Wash the lentils well in a large bowl covered woth plenty of water. Give it a really good swish around with your hands (anyone who has done one of my cookery masterclasses will know exactly what I mean!) and then tip out the excess water which will have turned cloudy. Be careful not to lose all your lentils with the water - use a sieve if you have butterfingers. Repeat the rinsing process at least 3 times. Add 600ml cold water to the washed lentils in a large saucepan. Don’t add anything else! Put on to a high heat, uncovered, and bring to the boil.
  2. You have to hang around and wait for the water to boil. As it does a nasty looking whitish scum will rise to the surface. Once the scum has risen (doesn’t that sound lovely?) take the pan off the heat and remove the scum with a slotted spoon. Put the lentils back onto a medium-low heat until it is simmering gently. Then just wait, be patient it will take about 20 mins, until the lentils are cooked through and very soft and squidgy.
  3. Once cooked stir the lentils briskly, you can use a hand whisk to get a smoother texture, or just a wooden spoon will do just as well. Now you can add the spices, the bay leaf and the green chilli. Let the dhal continue to simmer gently, if the dhal is too thick and starts to catch on the bottom on the pan, add more hot water. You are looking for the consistency of a thick soup.
  4. Meanwhile in a separate pan, a small frying pan is best, add the oil and onions and garlic and fry on a high heat. This is called ‘tempering’. When the onion and garlic are nicely browned, pour the whole lot including oil in to the dhal and stir to mix. Throw in the coriander and the dhal is done. Enjoy with plain rice or a freshly made roti.

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