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How to make dhal

Hearty and warming, a rich and creamy lentil dhal is the perfect dish to master when cooking on a budget. Using store cupboard ingredients, this versatile dish can be a simple side or a comforting main, and is easy to adapt to various flavours and tastes. Don’t forget to grab the handy ingredients shopping list at the bottom of the page.

  1. Prepare the spices

    Put a small frying pan over a medium heat and add 2 tsp cumin seeds. Shake in the pan for 1-2 mins until fragrant and just lightly toasted. Set aside to cool slightly. Measure out 1 tsp crushed chillies and 2 tsp turmeric and mix with the cumin seeds. Peel 3 garlic cloves and an 8cm piece ginger. Finely chop the garlic and cut the ginger into 4 chunky pieces.

    Prepare the spices
  2. Start the peas

    Put 300g yellow split peas in a large lidded pan or flameproof casserole dish and cover with 1.3ltr cold water. Bring to a simmer over a medium-high heat. If any foam rises to the top of the liquid, skim this off with a spoon.

    Start the peas
  3. Add flavour

    Once at a simmer, reduce the heat to low. Stir in the spices, garlic and ginger, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 1 hr.

    Add flavour
  4. Cook the dhal

    Remove the lid and stir gently. Cook for another 20 mins without the lid to allow the split peas to become fully tender. At this point the dhal should be thick and creamy but can be loosened with a splash of water if preferred – for example, if serving as a soup rather than a side dish or curry main.

    Cook the dhal
  5. Make the garlic oil

    Just before the end of the cooking time, put a small pan over a medium-high heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil (or any other cooking oil). Finely slice 3 garlic cloves and add these to the hot oil, frying for 2-3 mins until caramelised and browned.

    Make the garlic oil
  6. Finish the dhal

    Stir the garlic slices and flavoured oil into the dhal and season to taste. Remove and discard the pieces of ginger.

    Finish the dhal
  7. Serve

    The dhal can be served hot or cooled completely and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. The dhal will thicken slightly as it cools, so stir in a splash of water when reheating to reach your preferred consistency. The dhal can be served on its own as a side dish or with lots of delicious accompaniments for a main. Scatter over some chopped fresh coriander, spring onions or red chilli, add a dollop of natural yogurt (or dairy-free alternative, if required), then serve with cooked basmati rice or flatbreads.

    Tesco step by steps RFO dahl final recipe winter

  8. Flavour twists

    Dhals can be very versatile and are easy to adapt to different flavours or whatever ingredients you have to hand. If you don’t have cumin seeds, you can omit the toasting step and stir in 2 tsp ground cumin at the end of the cooking time with the garlic oil and seasoning. Add more crushed chillies for extra spice, or try garam masala, dried coriander, cinnamon, cardamom or mustard seeds in place of the other spices. Red lentils can be used instead of the yellow split peas, and vegetables can be added to create a heartier dish – simply stir through a handful of cooked veg (such as roasted aubergine or fried onions), fresh spinach or drained tinned chickpeas 10 mins before the end of the cooking time.

  9. Freezing and defrosting guidelines

    Defrost the dhal overnight in the fridge, then reheat until piping hot before serving. In order to enjoy optimum flavour and quality, frozen items are best used within 3 months of their freezing date. For more tips on freezing and defrosting food, read our article Love Your Freezer.

  10. Ingredients

    We’ve made a handy shopping list so you can get everything you need to make this comforting dhal recipe. Don’t forget to screenshot before you go shopping!

    2 tsp cumin seeds
    1 tsp crushed chillies
    2 tsp turmeric
    6 garlic cloves
    8cm piece ginger
    300g yellow split peas
    2 tbsp olive oil (or vegetable oil)

    Serves 4

    Each serving contains

    • Energy

    • Fat

      7g 10%
    • Saturates

      1g 6%
    • Sugars

      7g 7%
    • Salt

      0.4g 7%

    of the reference intake
    Carbohydrate 47.2g Protein 19.9g Fibre 20.3g