Perfect Dhal Recipe (Milk Free, Gluten Free)

Lentils, dal

Perfect dhal is a lentil dish that is tasty, nutritious and a healthy recipe for your kids and the family. Not only is it rich in protein it is also a source of iron.

With the addition of garlic, onions and turmeric, this recipe also provides sulphur-rich amino acids and polyphenols.  These are considered to work alongside an antioxidant known as glutathione in fighting against ageing.

Dhal is referred to as parippu in South India and Sri Lanka and it really is very easy to make.  Lentils don’t need to be restricted to vegetarian diets alone.

They are perfect for bulking out a ‘meaty dish’ when added to stews, soups and salads and are considerably cheaper than meat.

Perfect Dhal Recipe One

I have two recipes for you.  The first dhal recipe is incredibly easy and is delicious with rice, roti and a vegetable-based curry dish.  It is satisfying yet guilt-free packed full of goodness.

This is a healthy vegan recipe that should feature weekly in any household.  The bonus is that fussy eaters picking at meat may rather enjoy lentils as an alternative source of iron.

Compared to meat, a dhal recipe tends to be blander and slips down easily when teamed with children’s favourite starchy foods.  As this is a plant source of iron known as non-haem iron, serve with vitamin C rich foods in a salad to boost its absorption.  Alternatively, throw in tomatoes or coloured peppers into the dish.

This perfect dhal recipe is also naturally gluten, wheat, egg, soy and milk or dairy-free.  It fits in effortlessly into diets for children with multiple food allergies and intolerances.


1 cup red lentils

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 onion, chopped

3 large garlic cloves, crushed

1 small sprig fresh curry leaves

2 teaspoons cumin & black pepper mix, freshly ground

2-3 tablespoons of coconut milk

Salt to taste


  1. Wash the lentils thoroughly in cold water.
  2. In a saucepan, cover the lentils in plenty of water and bring to boil, removing any foamy soaps that appear.
  3. Add the turmeric, onions, garlic and curry leaves and cook for around 10 minutes.
  4. Once the lentils appear soft, add the ground cumin and garlic mix.  To make this mix, in a coffee grinder, throw in a tablespoon of fresh cumin seeds and 1 teaspoon of whole peppercorns.  Store any remaining powder in an airtight container.
  5. Cook for a further 5 minutes and serve the perfect dhal with coconut milk gently stirred into it prior to serving.

Perfect Dhal RecipeTwo

You don’t need to use two different types of lentils.  This perfect dhal recipe will work well with red lentils alone if you wish, but I really love the nutty texture that chana dal provides.  Simply delicious!

A very experienced cook also once told me to store cumin seeds in the fridge, keeps it fresh for slightly longer.


125g red split lentils

100g chana dal

1 onion, roughly chopped

4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 ripe tomato, roughly chopped or 1 tablespoon tomato puree

100ml coconut milk, mixed with 150ml water

2 green chillies, chopped (optional)

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 sprigs curry leaves

1 tablespoon oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 red onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 sprig of curry leaves

Freshly ground black pepper

Salt, to taste


Wash lentils thoroughly in cold water.  Put them in a non-stick pan and bring to boil with 500ml of water.  Add roughly chopped onion, chopped garlic cloves, tomato and coconut milk, green chilli, turmeric, ground cumin, coriander and curry leaves and bring to boil.

Simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are cooked and ‘mushy’.  This will take approximately 25 minutes.

Next heat oil in a saucepan, add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, red onion, crushed garlic and curry leaves.  Fry over low heat until the onions are softened and the mustard seeds have popped.  Add to the lentil dish.

Season with salt and pepper.

Note – if you prefer, you can substitute the coconut milk with semi-skimmed milk.

Serve with boiled rice.  I also love this meal with chickpea curry and salad.

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