Recipes Vegetarian Main Courses

Red Lentil Dahl, Tomato Ginger Relish

Everyone needs a dahl in their recipe repertoire. This dish is perfect for so many reasons. It’s the perfect hot, nourishing winter warmer, it has bright, fresh flavours and lots of herbs so I love it in summer too, and the cold leftovers make a fabulous lunch the next day. It’s vegan, it’s good for you, and it’s delicious.

A few tips and tricks that make this dahl extra special :

1. Using a food processor to chop the vegetables brings a rich, meaty texture. Isn’t it ironic that calling a vegan dish meaty is such a high compliment. But that’s what it does, it makes it meaty.

2. Serve it with Shira Bocar’s amazing tomato ginger relish – it makes every bite fresh and juicy. If there is any leftover it is delicious with a fried egg on toast for breakfast the next day.

3. A few spoonfuls of almond butter or tahini at the end make it rich and satisfying. Kind of like how in some sauces you may add a pat of butter at the end for richness.

4. Soak the lentils before you cook them. It removes anti-nutrients such as phytic acid, makes the vitamins and minerals more bio-available for your body, and, ahem, in my own personal experience it means they don’t give you flatulence. Jasmine Hemsley has a fabulous article on the benefits of soaking which you can find here.


Dahl :

250g red lentils

1 tbsp olive or coconut oil

1 medium white onion

5 cloves garlic

1 green chili

2 stalks lemongrass

1 inch piece ginger

2 medium carrots

2 parsnips

1 red bell pepper

1 orange bell pepper

salt, for seasoning

1 tsp each of – ground cumin, garam masala, black mustard seeds, turmeric

1 400g tin tomatoes

1 400g tin coconut milk

400ml vegetable stock

2 tbsp smooth natural nut butter or tahini

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp whole cumin seeds

3 shallots

2cm piece ginger

4 cloves garlic

500g fresh cherry tomatoes

30g each fresh mint and coriander, for serving

Brown rice, to serve


Soak the lentils in filtered water at least 6 hours before you want to start cooking. I often soak mine overnight – I don’t think it’s possible to oversoak lentils, just bear in mind that the longer they soak the faster they cook.

In a food processor pulse the aromatics – the onion, garlic, chili, lemongrass and ginger until all is finely chopped. Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan and add the chopped aromatics, cook until all has softened and turned translucent. Stir frequently so it doesn’t catch.

Meanwhile peel the carrots and parsnips, remove the white pith and seeds from the peppers and pulse in the food processor, until all is roughly chopped.

Add the spices to the pan, followed by the roughly chopped vegetables, tomatoes, coconut milk and vegetable stock. Drain the lentils, rinse well and add to the pot. Simmer until cooked, this usually only takes me about 10 – 15 minutes. Stir in the tahini or nut butter, and salt to taste.

While the dahl is simmering make the relish. Peel the ginger, and finely chop. Slice the tomatoes in two. Heat the coconut oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan and add the cumin seeds. Allow to sizzle until fragrant, Then add the ginger and tomatoes, and cook until the tomatoes have released some of their juices but still have their shape.

Serve on top of rice and garnish each bowl with fresh mint and coriander.