DIY Dhal

serves 4

25 minutes prep time

By Chantal Denis, categorized in Lunch & dinner

DIY Dhal

When your fridge is totally empty, this is the perfect recipe to make with your cupboard staples! Not to mention, you can also add any leftover veg too. Some of our favourites to add are potatoes, cauliflower, mushrooms, courgette, carrots and aubergine. This dhal is also the perfect way to use up greens that are on their way out, like spinach and kale.

Don’t have lentils? Not to worry, you can easily swap for a can of beans like chickpeas or kidney beans.


Curry Base:

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1/2 tsp salt

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 inch of ginger, grated

1 Tbsp ground cumin

1 Tbsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp cayenne or chili flakes (optional for a little kick!)

1 can diced tomatoes or 2 medium tomatoes, diced



3-4 handfuls of whatever veggies need to be used, diced (optional)

200g dried lentils

375 mL water or stock

1 Tbsp garam masala

125 mL canned coconut milk

Salt and pepper, to taste

Coriander, chopped for serving

Basmati rice for serving, if desired


  1. Prepare rice according to package directions, if using.
  2. Start by preparing your curry base, using a large saucepan (this is a one-pot wonder so make sure it’s big enough to accommodate!). Sauté the onion with ½ tsp salt in olive oil over medium heat until softened and just starting to brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Use this time to cut any vegetables you might be using into bite size chunks.
  3. Once onions are ready, add garlic, ginger and spices. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly to make sure garlic and spices do not burn.
  4. Add tomatoes and stir to combine. Reduce heat slightly and allow the curry base to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Add any vegetables (except greens, those will go in at the very end) and stir to coat with the spice and tomato mixture.
  6. Add lentils or beans and combine before adding the water and giving the mixture a good stir. Increase the heat back to medium-high to bring the curry to a boil.
  7. Once the curry comes to a boil, reduce to medium-low heat and simmer for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, until the lentils and veggies have softened. Note that red lentils will turn into (delicious!) mush whereas green or brown lentils will retain their shape. Stir regularly, and add more water if needed.
  8. Finish with coconut milk and garam masala. Taste and season as required.
  9. Serve in a bowl as a thick soup or over prepared rice. Garnish with chopped coriander.