Dhal Soup

A simple and nutritious meal, good for lunch with rice or bread. I have eaten it often when camping.



• 250 g red lentlls

• 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

• 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder

• Salt to taste

• 1 litre boiling water

• 1 tablespoon butter or oil

• 1/4 teaspoon of each of the following: fennel seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds*



• In a good size saucepan put the lentils, turmeric, chilli. salt, and water.

• Stir and cook for 20 minutes over a low heat.

• Measure out seeds into a small dish.

• Melt 1 tablespoon of butter or oil in a frying pan.

• Add seed mixture to frying pan, cook 20 seconds then add to cooked lentils and stir well.


Serve with rice or add more hot water to eat as a soup. If there are leftovers, the lentils will gradually thicken day by day, so you can add more water.

* This Bengali blend of spices is called Panch Phoran. If you don’t have all these different seeds, use what you have and adjust according to taste.

Number of portions: 3-4

Why is it eco-friendly?

It’s cheap (once you have the spices), easy, quick and nutritious.

Celebrated Indian food writer Madhur Jaffrey has this to say about lentils and other pulses: Dried beans, split peas and lentils are a staple in India, and help provide a large measure of the daily protein for families who eat meat rarely or are vegetarian. But beans by themselves are an incomplete food and need to be complemented at the same meal by a grain (rice or bread) and a dairy product (yoghurt or cheese). When nutritionists tell us today that this food combination has as much protein as a steak, I cannot help but think of the villagers in India whose basic diet for centuries has been dhals, and rice or bread washed down with a glass of buttermilk. Perhaps those villagers were not so badly off after all! (Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking, BBC, 1982)

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