Tarka Dhal

Serves 4



  • 500g red lentils

  • 1 tsp groundnut oil

  • 1 red onion (2/3 finely chopped, 1/3 finely sliced)

  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 10 cherry tomatoes, quartered

  • 3 tsp cumin seeds

  • 3 tsp turmeric

  • 1 tsp garam masala 

  • 1 tsp ground coriander

  • 1 tsp chilli flakes or 1 or 2 fresh, mild-ish chillies, deseeded and finely chopped.

  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated

  • Handful of pomegranate seeds

  • Handful of shelled pistachios (unsalted)

  • Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped


  • Put the lentils in a large pan and pour water until it's an inch over the level of the lentils. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer until it's the consistency of slack porridge. 

  • Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan until they're giving off a heady scent, but don't let them burn. It really won't take long!

  • In the oil, gently cook the onion and garlic until translucent, before adding the tomatoes. 

  • Once the lentils are cooked through and tender, add the dried spices, the ginger and the onion, garlic and tomatoes.

  • Mix well and leave to cool slightly, letting the flavours meld together. 

  • Serve topped with fresh coriander, or parsley if you're a coriander-phobe, pistachios for crunch, pomegranate for sweetness, and sliced onion for sharpness.

This dish is traditionally served as the core of a meal, but we sometimes like to top it with grilled turkey, chicken or white fish. 



  • Lentils are an ace source of fibre, carbohydrate and protein, and even count towards one of your 5-a-day.

  • Nutritionists also believe them to be a good source of molybdenum, folate, copper, phosphorus and manganese, as well as iron, vitamin B1, pantothenic acid, zinc, potassium and vitamin B6. Wowsers. 

  • Turmeric is very trendy at the moment as a wonder food that wards off cancer cells. A study by the Cork Cancer Research Centre claims the active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, can induce cell death in some types of cancer typically resistant to chemotherapy, such as those in some oesophageal cancers. 

  • There is a very low fat content to this dish and it is extremely filling!