Quick Spiced Lentils – Dahl Inspired

Quick Spiced Lentils - Dahl Inspired

It’s that time of year that calls for comfort food. It’s cold, it’s grey and on the most part pretty soggy outside. So I reach for gentle spices and recipes that make me feel warm from the inside out and incredibly satisfied. Food that feels like a big hug from your Nanna, do you know what I mean? My Nanny was always so good at giving hugs so I will make and eat this recipe in her honour. In fact, she loved curried things, but nothing too hot, so this Quick Spiced Lentil recipe would have been right up her street. It’s mildly spiced but of course, if you wanted to ramp up the heat add more chilli either as decoration or within the recipe.

I have to confess that I was inspired by a recipe that Melissa Hemsley put up on her Instagram one rainy afternoon for this recipe. Hers looked so inviting that it got me rummaging in my spice drawer to see if I had enough Indian spices to create a version of my own. Thankfully I did and the recipe for Quick Spiced Lentils was born. I have since created a big pot of these lentils 3 times because they are so quick to come together and above all completely delicious.

In terms of specialist equipment you really don’t need anything in particular; just one big saucepan and a wooden spoon. A win when it comes to the washing up. If you decide to add in the pickled red onions and the roasted cauliflower then a small bowl and a roasting dish can be added to that list but it’s still a small amount so don’t panic.

I have served these Quick Spiced Lentils with and without the pickles and have added a dollop of natural yoghurt to the top with wilted greens on another occasion. In fact, you could dress your lentils anyway you fancy. Wilted leaves, rice, naan bread or perhaps as an accompaniment to another curry dish. It’s very versatile which I love. You could make one big pot and serve it differently each time.

Why don’t you have a rummage in your own spice drawer to see what you can find and get creating? You won’t be disappointed. I should just add that it’s an incredibly cheap meal to make too. Perfect for those on a budget.

Quick Spiced Lentils - Dahl Inspired

Cuisine Indian
Keyword easy
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 500 g red lentils
  • 3 large garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 vegetable stock cube dissolved in 1 litre of boiling water
  • 400 ml of coconut milk from a tin
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1.5 tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch chilli flakes
  • 1.5 tsp ground turmeric
  • Salt and black pepper
  • For decoration
  • Chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 large lemon
  • Sea salt
  • Small head cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Natural yoghurt
  • Sliced red chilli


  • Preheat oven to 180C/ Gas 4. Break the cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Toss in 1 tbsp of vegetable oil snd season with salt snd pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 15 minutes or until cooked.
  • In a large saucepan add the vegetable oil and spices and cook briefly to release their aromas. Add in the chopped onion and cook for approximately 5 minutes on a medium heat until softened.
  • Add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute before adding in the lentils and the stock liquid. Turn up the heat and cook with a lid on for about 10 minutes. Stir often as to not let the lentil catch on the bottom. (They will if you aren’t careful!)
  • Meanwhile, make your pickled red onion by placing your finely sliced red onion in a small bowl. Cover with the juice of one lemon and season with a pinch of salt. Massage the onion in the juice for 30 seconds and then leave whilst the lentils cook to marinate in the lemon and salt mixture.
  • After the lentils have cooked for about 10 minutes add in the coconut milk. Turn the heat back down to medium and simmer with the lid off for a further 8-10 minutes so the sauce can thicken a little. If the lentils get too thick just add a little water to loosen.
  • To serve spoon the spiced lentils into a bowl and top with the roasted cauliflower, chopped coriander, natural yoghurt and pink pickled onions. Add finely sliced red chilli if using. Enjoy.

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