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Life Saving Dahl

If you have read my book, Eat My Globe, you will know that this simple but nutritous dish is the one that saved my life. A soup-like red lentil dahl based on my family's recipe, it is one of the most satisfying dishes you will ever eat. And, our family tradition is to suck on the lemons, which we cook with the lentils and spices.

Bowl of Life Saving Dahl with hard boiled eggs and spinach. Text, "Go Everywhere, Eat Everything"

Life Saving Dahl Recipe



  • 1 ½ cup of red lentils (toasted first in a dry pan. I use my fingers to stir and when it is too hot to touch, it is done)

  • 1 unwaxed lemon, washed and chopped

  • ½ large onion diced

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 1 inch fresh ginger

  • 4 cardamom pods

  • 3 cloves

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 2 fresh Serrano chilies (de-seeded and finely chopped)

  • 1 tsp each of ground turmeric/ginger/cumin/coriander/red chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 3 cups vegetable stock or water

  • 1 bag of spinach (washed)

  • 2 hard boil eggs

  • 3 tbsp vegetable or canola oil

  1. Make a puree of the ginger and garlic.

  2. Dry toast the lentils over low heat until they begin to take on a nutty aroma.

  3. Remove the lentils from the pan and set aside.

  4. Put the oil into a pan over medium heat. 

  5. Add the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick. Cook for 1 minute on a low heat until they release their flavor.

  6. Add the onion, sprinkle with salt, and cook until it begins to soften.

  7. Add the chili. Cook for 2 minutes.

  8. Add the ginger/garlic paste. Cook for 2 minutes.

  9. Add the ground spices and sugar. Mix well with and cook for 2-3 minutes until the spices lose their rawness. If the mixture begins to stick add a little water.

  10. Return the toasted lentils to the pan and mix well so all the pulses are covered with the mixture.

  11. Add the stock/water and the lemons. Simmer for around 20 minutes until the lentils have broken down. Add more water if it sticks. Some lentils may take a little longer.

  12. Whisk the lentils gently to create more of a soupy texture.

  13. Add the spinach, cover and allow to wilt.

  14. The end result is quite a watery Dahl which is great served over a hard boiled egg.

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