Dahl with Fresh Spinach and Haloumi

Dahl with Fresh Spinach and Haloumi


Dahl has to be one of the great comfort foods.

Warm, soft & spicy. Extra comfort that lentils are really good for you and inexpensive. Bonus.

This dahl recipe is delicious, healthy, comforting and simple. Essentially you’re toasting spices, garlic & onion, adding lentils, tomato paste and water, leaving it to simmer, and walking away for a while. When you come back, you add some coconut milk.

And then, to make this extra special, I highly recommend the Dahl Tadka tempering approach: which is to fry up some chilli, garlic and spices in ghee/butter/oil at the end, and spoon the spice mix over your dahl. This takes 1 minute, and totally kicks the whole thing off to another level.

I make the dahl itself pretty mild, so the kids can eat it, which is why the above spice frying addition at the end is important for this recipe. Serve with  some baby spinach leaves, a pile of fresh coriander, some fried haloumi or paneer, a squeeze of lemon, and a spoonful of plain yogurt and make your Dahl come alive.

I love this. How do you like your dahl?

Red Lentil Dahl with brown rice.
Red Lentil Dahl with brown rice.

I like to make heaps of dahl and freeze some. How good to have amazing homemade dahl hiding in your freezer to surprise you when you can’t cope/be bothered? (*a note on freezing. Don’t put it in a bowl covered in gladwrap. It will look like sketchy leftovers that you won’t fancy eating. Put small, useable portions in resealable sandwich bags, but don’t just chuck it in the freezer so it comes out like a huge misshapen unidentifiable lump, lay the bag flat, on a plate or something until its frozen. Heaps more room in the freezer, and it defrosts quicker & more evenly too. And, I’m sure that on some aesthetic/psychological level it makes it a lot more appealing to grab out of the freezer and reheat. Packaging psychology and all that.

In this recipe I’ve used green/brown lentils, but you could also use red lentils which are also delicious, and cook quicker.



Dahl with Fresh Spinach and Fried Haloumi

  • 375 grams of green/brown lentils
  • 1 onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1tb olive oil
  • 1tsp ground tumeric
  • 2tsp of ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2tsp chilli paste
  • 1tsp ginger paste
  • 1.5 litres of water
  • 1 sachet of tomato paste (50gm)
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 can of coconut milk

For the tempering/topping

  • 2 tbsp ghee, or else use 1 tbsp butter and 1tbsp of oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 spoon of chilli paste, or 1 or 2 fresh chopped chillis

For the Garnish

  • Slices of panner or haloumi cheese
  • A handful of fresh baby spinach leaves
  • A handful of fresh coriander
  • A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Instructions for the Dahl

  1. Rinse & drain the lentils
  2. Blend the onions and garlic briefly, you want it a little bit chunky. (this just saves you chopping it all)
  3. Heat the oil and butter together in a medium hot pan
  4. Add the onion/garlic mixture and all the spices and fry for a few minutes. (How good’s the smell.)
  5. Add the tomato paste and stir through
  6. Add the lentils and stir through the paste for a minute
  7. Add the water, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to simmer gently with the lid on for a couple of hours, until the lentils are nice and soft.  Leave it even longer if you can. You can add more water if you need to.
  8. When you’re ready to eat, add coconut milk to the dahl and leave on low heat.
  9. Meanwhile, heat another fry pan on high, and add a spoonful of oil, when hot, add slices of paneer or haloumi cheese and fry until golden.
  10. In another small pan, heat the ghee/butter/ oil on high and add the garlic chilli and spices and fry for a minute or two.
  11. Serve the Dahl into bowls, and top with the haloumi,  fresh spinach, coriander, a squeeze of lemon, a spoonful of plain yogurt and drizzle the hot tempering mixture over the top.
  12. Serve with plain boiled white or brown rice or roti.