Cookie Consent by
a bowl of red lentils


Preparing dhal

By EllenComms 26 Dec 2022

My mum used to make dhal when she missed Pakistan, and I would make dhal to comfort myself. This dhal recipe is my take on her version, and I hope you enjoy it.

Cooking time:

Prep: 30 mins

Cook: Approx 40 mins

Serves: 1


Ingredients for dhal

  • 1 cup of red lentils
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves
  • 1-inch ginger, peeled
  • Chilli powder to taste
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3 or 4 tomatoes
  • 1 handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tsp of oil or ghee

Ingredients to add on top

  • 5 tsp of oil or ghee
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1/2 onions, julienne
  • 3 green chillies, vertically split in half (optional, you may only want to use one). Please note you can remove the seeds if you would like.


  1. Soak one cup of red lentils in lukewarm water for 30 minutes before cooking. If possible, soak lentils overnight.
  2. Blend garlic, ginger, and tomatoes until smooth.
  3. Heat the oil or ghee in a large pan over medium heat. Add cumin seeds to flavour the oil and ghee and cook for a minute. Then pour the mixture (garlic, ginger and tomato) into the pan and cook for three to five minutes.
  4. Once the mixture has been semi-cooked, you can add salt, turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and chilli powder. Mix the dry spices into the mixture and cook for three to five minutes. If the mixture becomes too dry, you can add half a cup of water.
  5. Rinse the lentils about three times and add them to the mixture. Then reduce the heat and add three cups of water. Place the lid on the pan and cook on medium-low heat for 25 minutes or more. You may need to adjust for more water, the dhal should have enough water to cover it while cooking. Once cooked, the lentils should be soft and easily mashed with two fingers when cooked. Please note cooking time can vary depending on the type of lentils – please read the cooking instruction on the packaging and adjust the time if needed.
  6. Once the lentils have cooked, you can decide on the consistency of the dhal (how thick or runny you would like the dhal). I recommend cooking the dhal down further on medium heat for a thicker consistency. I would slowly add water for thin consistency to reach your desired consistency. You can also check and adjust the salt and spice levels here.
  7. Turn the heat off and mix in the freshly chopped coriander.
  8. Topping: Fry the garlic slices, onions (julienne) and (optional) green chillies on medium-high heat in oil or ghee. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent. Then pour the hot oil with the garlic, onions and (optional) green chillies over the dhal.
  9. Eat and enjoy with rice or any flatbread!

By Muhammed Iqbal, MSc AOI Programme Manager, Department of Accounting. 

We've got loads of recipe articles on Halls Life to give you inspiration which you'll be spoilt for choice over!


Recipe, Winter,