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.

Simon Majumdar's Life Saving Dahl Recipe

Life Saving Dahl Recipe



  • 1 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 chopped in quarters

  • 1 onion sliced

  • 2 cardamom pods

  • 2 cloves

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 3 fresh green chilies

  • 2 inches of fresh ginger

  • 1 tsp each of ground turmeric/ginger/cumin/coriander seed/hot chilli powder

  • ½ tsp salt

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 1½ Pints of water or stock

  • 1 Bag of spinach (washed)

  1. Make a paste by blending the ginger/garlic/fresh chili with a little salt and water.

  2. Put 2 tablespoons of oil into a hot pan and when it comes to heat, add the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick. Cook for 1 minute on a low heat until they release their flavor.

  3. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften and turn golden.

  4. Add the ginger/chili/garlic paste and cook for two to four minutes until it loses its rawness.Add the ground spices, sugar and salt and mix well with the onions and cook out for 4 mins until the spices lose their rawness. If the mixture begins to stick add a little water.

  5. Add the lentils and mix well so all the pulses are covered with the mixture.

  6. Add 1½ pints of water/stock and the quartered lemons and simmer for 30 minutes until the lentils have broken down. Add more water if it sticks. Some lentils may take a little longer.

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

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

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