Serves 4–6

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

• 30 ml ghee (clarified butter)

• 1 small onion, chopped

• 375 ml chana dhal (split chickpeas) or yellow lentils, rinsed

• 30 ml fresh turmeric root, grated

• 5 ml garam masala

• 15 ml each oil and butter or ghee

• 5 ml each cumin, mustard and fennel seeds

• 6 fresh curry leaves

• 1 clove garlic, chopped

• 1 green chilli, seeded and chopped

• 1 knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated

• 2 large tomatoes, chopped

• fresh coriander

1 Heat the clarified butter and sauté the onions until soft and glossy. Add the dhal, turmeric and 750 ml water. Bring to the boil and simmer over moderate heat until the dhal starts to soften (about 40 minutes). Continuously skim off any foam that forms on top.

2 Season to taste with salt, pepper and garam masala. Check the texture of the dhal; it must resemble porridge – thicker than soup, but thinner than hummus. Add more water if it’s too thick or cook for longer if it’s too runny; you can also purée the dhal with a stick blender.

3 Heat the oil and butter in a small pan and toast the cumin, mustard and fennel together until fragrant. Stir in the curry leaves, garlic, chilli, ginger and tomatoes and fry for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and spoon the tomato mixture on top of the dhal. Serve as is with a sprinkling of fresh coriander as a side dish, or add roasted butternut and chickpeas for a more substantial main course.


• Transform the dhal into a soup by adding a cup of stock and a tin of coconut milk. Stir a handful of baby spinach into the hot soup for extra veggie flavour.

• Substitute the chana dhal with red lentils and add slices of grilled brinjal – it will have a softer texture