Urvashi Roe's soul-warming Dhal

Urvashi Roe's soul-warming Dhal

Dhal is the centre of the Gujarati universe as far as I am concerned. I cannot go more than a week without having it – especially in winter. Every one of us will make dhal in a different way with a different mix of spices so I’m sharing a version which is fast and easy to use as a base using the spices in the Spice Kitchen Indian Spice Tin.  

As you start to perfect your own recipe you can add garlic or chopped onions in with your seeds at the beginning. Throw in some cassia bark, star anise and cardamom pods with the cassia bark. 

Instead of red lentils you could also use brown or green lentils or puy lentils or moong/mung beans that have been soaked overnight. 


Ideas for toppings 

It’s nice to eat dhal with rice or some kind of bread like naan, baguette or pitta bread but you can switch it up with different toppings to make a heartier meal. I like garlic prawns, roasted veggies, crumbled feta or diced halloumi, seeds, nuts, chopped spinach, fennel or courgettes. 

Serves 4-6 



200g split red lentils

2 tbsp coconut, sunflower or rapeseed oil

1½ tsp mustard seeds

1½ tsp cumin seeds

A few sticks of cassia bark

5–6 curry leaves

100g tomatoes, finely chopped or puréed

1 tsp turmeric

1½ tsp salt

1½ tsp chilli powder

2½ tsp ground cumin

2½ tsp ground coriander

½ to 1 tsp garam masala

2 tsp finely grated ginger

Half a lemon


To garnish

Toasted sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds

2–3 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander

Olive oil or ghee for drizzling



First, wash the red lentils by swishing them around in some warm water and then pouring the water away. Do that a few times until the water starts to run clearer. Put the lentils in a bowl with some warm water and leave them to soak while you prepare the other ingredients. I find it’s easier to have everything to hand when making dhal as there are a few things, so I line them up in order.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Make sure the pan you are using has a lid as you will need it later.

After a few minutes add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cassia bark and curry leaves and let this all fizzle and pop for a few seconds before adding the tomatoes. Be careful as the water in the tomatoes may cause a little spitting, so put them in at arm’s length using the lid as a shield.

Reduce the heat to low and then stir in the turmeric, salt, chilli powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, garam masala and grated ginger along with 500ml water. Bring to a gentle boil, pop the lid on and let this simmer away on a low to medium heat for about five minutes.

Meanwhile, drain your dhal into a sieve and give it one last rinse before adding it into the pan. Throw in the half lemon – you don’t need to squeeze it, just drop it in.

Finally add another 500ml water. Give it all a good stir, bring back to the boil, then turn the heat down to low and put the lid partly on, leaving a centimetre gap for steam to escape. I usually stick a wooden spoon into the pan first to keep the lid ajar.

Leave this to simmer away for 20–30 minutes. After this time your dhal will be ready to taste and season further as you wish, or serve as is.


About Urvashi Roe 

Urvashi Roe is a freelance food writer based in North London. She writes for a range of publications, including Great British Chefs, Good Things Magazine, lovefood.com and The Foodie Bugle. She is also a freelance recipe developer for various brands.

She was a former contestant on BBC2's Great British Bake Off and has since presented on Channel 4’s Dispatches and BBC Rip Off Britain.

She has demonstrated her plant-based recipes at festivals such as The Eden Project, The Chocolate Festival, BBC Good Food Show and the Hampton Court Flower Show.

When not working, travelling and collecting recipes, Urvashi can be found on her allotment.


Get the cookery book

Urvashi's cookery book 'Biting Biting' is available as a gifting bundle with our Indian Spice Tin here, and shares delicious vegetarian recipes can be created from store cupboard ingredients and endlessly varied according to the leftovers in your fridge.


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