Cheap Chow: Basic Dahl

Cheap Chow: Basic Dahl

Oh lentils, how I love thee… You’re yummy, you don’t take long to cook and you are CHEAP!

This recipe for dahl is not particularly authentic Indian (I’ve been taught more authentic dahl’s, but they’re not half as easy to cook!), nor is it particularly fancy – but it’s cheap and delicious and I promise it’ll fill you up.

I buy a kilo bag of red split lentils from the supermarket and they last me forever – because these little pebbles go a long way, trust me. Everything else is basically store cupboard essentials, making this is a great recipe when you think you have ‘nothing in the house’! Of course, it assumes you’ve already got quite the spice rack already… Which yes, is quite expensive initially, but spices last ages and if you buy them from Indian supermarkets or loose, they are cheaper!


Georgia’s Speedy Dah



  • Splash of oil (I still use olive oil, because I can only afford one)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • A few garlic cloves, crushed
  • Chopped tomatos (anything you’ve got lying around – even tomato paste works here)
  • Spices (I recommend tumeric, cumin, coriander seeds, garam masala, but play around with what you like best)
  • 1 cup red split lentils
  • 2-3 cups water
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Parsley or coriander to serve (if you’ve got any)
  • (You can also add chilli, if you like it, which I do but many of my friend’s don’t!)


  1. Get a pot on the heat and splash in the oil, when it’s hot, throw in the onion and sautee until it becomes translucent
  2. Add in the garlic and spices and cook just long enough until you can smell them, be careful not to burn! (burnt spices are the foulest)
  3. Throw in the tomatos and cook for a further minute or two
  4. Now add in the lentils and half the water and cook until the lentils begin to absorb the water, which will happen pretty quickly.
  5. Add more water, allowing the lentils to continue to absorb the water until they’re soft and the water is basically absorbed (you can make the dahl thicker or thinnr by adding more or less water, just be careful not to let the bottom of the pan burn)
  6. Sprinkle your herb of choice over the top, season and serve either alone or with rice or an Indian bread like naan or chappati!
  7. Don’t be stinge on the salt – lentils need salt!