Every once in a while I’ll crave something that is vegetable-forward and warming from the inside out, and without fall I’ll make a huge batch of this soothing coconut dal. I am a huge fan of lentils and legumes in general. They’re inexpensive, easy to cook and can be flavoured with just about anything. The one thing that is even more awesome about the dried red lentils used in this recipe is that there is no soaking required. All the ingredients go directly into the pan and are cooked until soft and delicious before spinach and lemon juice are added to brighten the whole thing up. This dal is ideal for freezing ready for quick lunches and easy dinners… and having a stash of store-bought roti in the freezer for dipping is a non-negotiable.

PREP TIME: 5 minutes COOK TIME: 25 minutes SERVES: 4
375 g (1 1/2 cups) dried red lentils 2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala 750 ml (3 cups) vegetable stock 250 ml (1 cup) coconut milk 200 g canned diced tomatoes (see Note 1)
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
100 g (2 cups) baby spinach leaves plain yoghurt, to serve
1/4 bunch coriander, finely chopped, to serve
4 rotis, to serve (see Note 2) lemon wedges, to serve


Place the lentils in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under running water until the water runs clear. Heat the coconut oil in a deep, heavy- based frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a further 1 minute. Add the spices and stir them through, then immediately add the rinsed lentils, vegetable stock, coconut milk, canned tomatoes, salt, pepper and sugar. Stir to combine, bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils have softened. Add the spinach leaves and stir them through – as soon as they have wilted, remove the pan from the heat. Serve with a swirl of plain yoghurt, some freshly chopped coriander, the flaky roti and a squeeze of lemon juice.


Make fritters with left-over dal. Combine 250 g (1 cup) dal with 35 g (1/4 cup) plain flour, 15 g (1/4 cup) finely chopped coriander and 1 beaten egg. Add more flour if required to form four fritters. Cook for 2 minutes per side in 2 tablespoons of Coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Serve with plain yoghurt and mango chutney.


You can freeze left-over canned tomatoes for up to 2 months in a reusable sandwich bag or airtight container, or try them in the Chicken Paprikash with Cabbage Salad on page 38.


Opt for the soft and flaky roti in the freezer section of the supermarket. It heats in the pant just as you would find at your favourite local restaurant.


Refrigerate for up to 3 days. Freeze for up to 2 months.