Last but not least in the Comfort Food project with Kate Flower – Spiced Dal.

While I’m an enthusiastic carnivore, I realised that another regular feature on the menu in my household which represents comfort food to me, is dal.

It’s quick to prepare, satisfying and warming and you can dress it up as much as you like or keep it super simple.

Already a vegetarian dish, you can easily make it vegan by swapping out the butter for coconut oil and serve with coconut yoghurt.

Simple Spiced Dal
(with optional crunchy lentil topping)

For the Dal:
1 cup red split lentils, well rinsed and soaked in 2 cups of water for 30 minutes
50g butter (or coconut oil)
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3cm knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp mustard seed
1 cinnamon stick
8-10 curry leaves
salt to taste

To Serve:
steamed basmati rice
poppadums or roti
fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
plain yoghurt or coconut yoghurt


  • In a medium saucepan, bring the red split lentils and their soaking water to the boil, lower heat and simmer gently for about 20-30 minutes until soft and broken down. Stir frequently and add more water during this time if necessary.
  • Meanwhile in a medium frying pan, melt the butter or coconut oil over medium-low heat, add the onion and cook covered on a low heat for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the garlic, ginger and spices and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring every now and then.
  • Stir spices into cooked lentils and season well with salt.


Crunchy Lentil Topping (optional)

1 cup French-style lentils
1 Tb coconut oil
2 tsp cumin seed
sea salt, to taste


  • Cook the French-style lentils according to instructions on the packet, drain well.
  • Heat the coconut oil in a medium frying pan and add the well-drained lentils and cumin seed.
  • Stir to coat in oil, turn heat to low and cook stirring every now and then until lentils are crispy
  • Season with sea salt to taste


  • The dal can be served as part of a bigger feast, or on its own for a simple meal.
  • Add caramelised onions, cucumber pieces, chopped fresh chillies for extra garnish

Recipe & photography:  Harriet Harcourt

Food styling:   Kate Flower Food