Surely every family has a go-to dinner meal they make on the lazy, can’t-be-bothered-to-be-creative nights. Ours is rice with lentil Dahl. It takes around 20 minutes just long enough for the rice and lentils to cook. We make a tempered Dahl, as we learned in Sri Lanka, which adds extra flavour and texture. Essentially, while the Dahl and rice are cooking, we fry spices, curry leaves and other ingredients in a separate pan to make an extra sauce or ‘temper’ to put on top. It sounds complicated, but it’s not. I’ll walk you through it below.

Recipe for Tempered Dahl:

Ingredients for the Dahl:

  • 2 cups of red lentils
  • 2 teaspoons of turmeric
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)

Method for the Dahl

Rinse your lentils a few times to ensure they are clean (this is important!). Add the lentils to a pot (we use a cast iron pot with a lid) and cover with water by about 2cm (water should be about 2cm above the lentils in the pot). Add the turmeric, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. When most of the water has been absorbed, add the can of coconut milk. Add the salt and simmer until soft, usually for another 5-10 minutes. While the lentils are simmering, you can make the temper.

Ingredients for the temper: 

  • 1 Tablespoon of black mustard seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon of fenugreek seeds
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cm of fresh ginger, diced finely
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 green chilli, sliced finely
  • 12-16 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 punnet of fresh cherry tomatoes, chopped in half  (or 1 can of chopped tomatoes if you don’t have fresh)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Method for the temper:

Add the black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds to a pan and toast for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Set the seeds aside in a small bowl. Add the coconut oil to the pan and when it’s melted add the curry leaves and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the onion and cook until soft. Now add the ginger and garlic and the toasted seeds. Fry together for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt and black pepper, cook down for 10 minutes to allow the flavours to meld. Stir the temper into the Dahl or add it on top.

We like to garnish ours with fresh coriander and a dollop of natural or coconut yoghurt. This dish is so rich in flavour and so simple to make. The yummiest easy dinner.

For more family-friendly recipes and food ideas, you can check out my eBook or the Nurture e-course. Both of these include some of our favourite recipes!