Red Lentil Dal

From Living PCOS Free

By Rohini Bajekal

*The red lentils will be soaked ideally for a few hours to speed up cooking time



Good for:



  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder (or 1-inch fresh root grated)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • Large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed and diced
  • 1 red chilli, diced (optional)
  • 1-inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cups split red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth or water if you don’t have/ wish to use broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 tomatoes, diced (can omit to make pantry-friendly)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (optional – add to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 handfuls of spinach leaves or kale, chopped
  • Bunch of coriander, chopped including stems 
  • Juice from 1 lemon

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

Soak the red lentils in slightly warm water for a few hours to improve digestibility. Lentils don’t require soaking so this is an optional step. Give the lentils a good rinse and set aside.

Step 2

Heat a large pan and dry roast the cumin seeds, cumin, powder, garam masala, turmeric powder and red chilli powder until they are fragrant. Be very careful and do this on a low heat for a couple of minutes so they don’t burn – they should not be smoking!

Step 3

Add a splash of water (or olive oil if you’re not cooking oil free) and the onion and sauté for a few minutes. Add the chilli, garlic and ginger and another tiny splash of water if needed to deglaze the pan.

Step 4

Add the tomato paste and stir. Add the drained lentils and mix. Add the vegetable broth and water. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer.

Step 5

After 20 minutes of simmering, add in the diced tomatoes, salt and black pepper. Continue to cook for another 15 minutes or until the lentils are fully cooked.

Step 6

Turn the heat off and add in the spinach and coriander including coriander stems (full of flavour). They will wilt in the residual heat if you put the lid on. Reserve some of the coriander for garnish. Season to taste.

Step 7

Serve with brown or red rice and an extra squeeze of lemon juice and dollop of soya yoghurt or raita.

Top Tips

Cumin has many benefits for health as do most herbs and spices. Cumin seeds and powder may help with digestion, weight management, blood sugar and cholesterol control. The healthiest, longest-living societies around the world, (Blue Zones) eat legumes (beans, peas, lentils) every day and often more than once a day.

Eat iron-rich foods (such as lentils or dark leafy greens) with Vitamin C (e.g. lemon juice) to maximise absorption. Eat plenty of low-oxalate dark leafy greens (kale, broccoli etc.), dried apricots, cashew nuts, legumes and oats. Avoid drinking tea, coffee or red wine with iron-rich meals as these inhibit iron absorption.

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