Lentil and Potato Dhal

Before I met my now-husband, which was about 22 years ago I’d never explored the world of Indian cuisine.  Let’s just say I wasn’t an adventurous eater. If it wasn’t Italian, I just wasn’t that interested.   When I learned that my boyfriend and his family were Indian, and his mum was an incredible cook, I knew my palette was in for a culinary ride.  And just between you and me, I was a tad nervous too.

I clearly remember my first meal at their family home.  I had never seen food like it and the smells were so foreign.  It’s here I ventured into the world of Indian food, and to begin with, I did struggle a little. The flavours were so new.  Over time I grew to love the food and now I have few recipes I love to cook, with dhal being my absolute favourite.  I’m pretty sure this recipe is not exactly as my mother-in-law taught me.  I have a habit of messing with things. After all, I am a recipe creator.  I’ve adapted this dhal it to suit my taste buds and I hope you love it too.


  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 knob of ginger – about 3 cm
  • 3 fresh vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coriander powder
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 cup orange lentils
  • 1.2 litres water


  1. Dice the onion finely and sauté in a saucepan with olive oil. Add cumin seeds and cook starts roasting.
  2. Then add ginger and garlic, let cook a minute or two.
  3. Meanwhile, blitz the tomatoes in a blender until a smooth liquid is formed. Set aside.
  4. Add the turmeric, salt and coriander powder to the pot and stir.
  5. Add the pureed tomatoes and let it cook with the spices for about 3 – 5 minutes.
  6. Dice the potatoes into small 3 cm cubes. Add the diced potatoes and lentils to the tomato paste. (be sure to rinse the lentils before cooking)
  7. Add water, stir all ingredients and cook for 30 minutes on medium to high heat until the dhal and potatoes are cooked.  The potatoes should be firm. Do not overcook or it will turn into mash in the dhal.  You want the potatoes to remain whole with the lentils.
  8. Serve on its own or with plain basmati rice.  Top with fresh coriander.