Tarka Dhal – so good on a cold blustery night

So, our time in France is coming to an end and my mind is drifting to the other side of the channel and what I can cook tomorrow night after a long day of travelling. I want to cook something that is tasty, healthy, quick and easy and most importantly requires little if no shopping. Finally, after eating bland meals on a ferry, I want something that has a kick and brings my palate back to life – tarka dhal is just the ticket.

I love spicy food and curry is something I crave when I am away fro uk for any length of time. I am always amazed just how good this tastes and how quick it comes together – it tastes like it has taken days to cook. My brother introduced me to this a few years ago, and I think I have improved on his version with a few touches.

This was my version put together from what I always have in my cupboards and fridge – so quick and easy to make, but good enough to get people asking for seconds and the recipe!

Serves: 4 people easily, can stretch to 6 with more water.


around 25 grammes butter and a little oil
1 brown onion
2 good cloves garlic
1 inch chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
good grind of black pepper
salt to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 regular size can of plum tomatoes
1 can (med size – smaller than the toms) coconut milk
up to 1 pint chicken stock
1 cup lentils
fresh coriander (cilantro to my American chums)


1 Chop onions finely, crush garlic and grate ginger.
2 Melt butter in oil until just sizzling.
3 Add garlic, onion and ginger to sizzling butter and fry until transparent.
4 Add spices to onion mix and fry for less than 1 minute (if mixture begins to burn add some water to stop this.
5 Add toms, coconut milk and chicken stock to mixture and stir
6 Add lentils (be warned at this stage the whole thing looks like a hideous mess, but trust me, you won’t believe what a difference time makes!).
7 cook for around 20 mins or until lentils are tender. You will need to stir hard every now and again as this loves to try sticking to your pan.
7 Just before serving, add juice of lemon and plenty of coriander to taste
9 Taste and add some more salt or pepper if required


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