Red lentil tarka dhal

Red Lentil Dhal

I live by the sea, and the cold wind blows strong.

In summer it is a real asset. It smells of salt and coconut. There are children with spades digging channels and teenagers jumping off the pier. And we all spend hours in the crashing waves. For me however, its true beauty is revealed when the weather turns cold, and everyone else is at home.

I regularly walk along the shore. Sometimes with my son. We look for treasures like special rocks, pretty shells, and smooth pieces of driftwood. We watch the birds fly about, rearranging their v-formation, or the lone pacific gull, sitting on the water. We wonder where he might be going. Why is he alone? Is he happy? We make up stories about him. We chatter for hours about these little things. Each visit is special, we never seem to tire of it.

When he is not home I go by myself. I walk right along the shore, at the very edge of the water, so the tide can tease my shoes. I am alone, but don’t feel at all lonely. As always, I am completely captivated by the sky – the subtle hues, the sunbeams, but most especially, the clouds. They are absolutely mesmerising. All the while, the salty air blows a gale through my soul. As it passes through me, it grabs onto all my negative thoughts. Every gust is like a big spirited clean out. It is wonderful. I return home with a clean slate, and a renewed outlook on life.

Occasionally I find myself caught up in some kind of vortex of negativity. Innocently going about my business, only to be sucked up unexpectedly, and spun out of control. You know those times, when things in life aren’t going so well, and all of a sudden everything is going wrong. Sometimes I feel like writing a letter to the universe, explaining that I’ve had quite enough now, and could it kindly restore order. Then I remember my special place. I return to the sea shore, and allow the cold salty air to work it’s magic. It revives me, once again.tarka dhal spicesbig pot of dhal

Red Lentil Dhal

Serves 6 – 8
vegan and gluten free


  • 375g red lentils
  • 1 small onion, sliced into thin half moons
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsps cumin seeds
  • 2 tsps turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 fresh green chillies, finely diced
  • thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, finely grated
  • handful fresh coriander, chopped roughly
  • 1 tomato, finely diced
  • cooked rice, to serve

  1. In a large heavy based saucepan, add the oil and sliced onions with a pinch of salt. Saute over a low heat until transparent.
  2. Add the spices and garlic, and stir into the onion mixture for a minute or two.
  3. Add the red lentils and enough water to cover the lentils by about 5cm (some lentils are more thirsty than others). Stir, and turn the heat up to high. When it comes to the boil, reduce heat to low, and keep stirring intermittently for about 30 minutes, or until lentils are soft. It should be a porridge like consistency, add more water if necessary. If it’s too thin, keep on the heat and reduce down until you reach desired thickness.
  4. Add the ginger and season with about a tsp of salt. Stir, then check and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  5. Combine the chopped coriander and tomato and set aside in a bowl.
  6. Add rice to bowls and ladle the dhal over the top. Garnish with a handful of the fresh tomato/coriander mix.

dahl table

Comments 4

    • Jade 11/05/2015

      First time I have used it Peta! Total bargain, hey!
      And yes, dhal is perfect wintery loveliness. There’s plenty of leftovers if you guys jump in the car.. X

  1. laurasmess 13/05/2015

    You write so, so well. I could just curl up and live in your above description for a little while 🙂 But then there’s this gorgeous lentil dhal, your beautiful atmospheric photos… ah. Yay for warming meals and nourishing legumes xxx

    • Jade 13/05/2015

      Shucks Laura! Talk about an ego boost!
      Thank you for your lovely words. Seems we are like kindred spirits. If you lived in Melbourne we would totes hang out and be mates. And celebrate our upcoming blog-birthdays together : )

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