This is a very easy and reasonably quick dhal to make – the cooking smell will drive all those cooking their 20th night of pasta-with-jar-of-tomato-sauce completely nuts.


Lentils (I used a standard brown lentil but a combination of masoor dahl and brown lentils would be lovely)
Desiccated coconut (not essential but really makes the dish)
Chilli (fresh or powdered to taste)
Packet of mystery spices that sound more or less indian – using the number of other packets to assist translation we discerned that ours contained black pepper, cinnamon, cumin and a bunch of other unknowns. If you travel with a spice rack and mortar and pestle toast these whole (along with the coconut) and then grind. Otherwise use the packet as described below.


One pot
Something to chop on
Serving plates or bowls


Slice your onion and gently heat until clear with some oil. Then add your garlic, coconut and spices. When fragrant, add your lentils and then enough water to cover. If you can scrounge a stock cube from the communal bin to add now, so much the better. Simmer until your lentils are soft from not squishy – they should still look like individual lentils but have formed a sort of overall creamy texture.
If you are serving with a salad (I served with a toasted walnut and rocket salad) the end of your leaves can also be stirred into the dahl at the last minute so as to avoid waste and add interest. I also blobbed a nice mush of plain yogurt and mint on top to serve.


Very easy, doesn’t look all that pretty, tastes and smells fantastic, extremely cheap, very nutritious (lots of protein), especially if served with a green salad.